May 08, 2018
ID theft can be a huge concern for businesses of any size, especially as the trend of stolen IDs and data breaches continues to rise. This is especially concerning for companies that deal with people's personal data on a day-to-day basis. Businesses that have personal data for customers, which includes almost every business are carrying the risk of data poaching. Personal information is not only located in your office via paperwork but is also stored on the company's computers and database systems. Protecting their information from ID fraud is becoming increasingly important in an age where more and more people are learning to hack computer systems and get ahold of people's personal information.
The following are 6 great ways that companies can help ensure that their client's personal information is protected1 while it is in their possession:
- Create An Information Security Plan: Working with a security company to provide a security system for your firm to ensure that your client's information is protected and is safe as it can be. Provide the client with a written summary of the ID security software that your company is using and other steps that are being taken to protect their personal information. Clients who see that you are taking extra steps to protect their personal information are more likely to trust you with that information than those who don't see any extra evidence of their personal information being protected.
- Hire/Assign Personnel To Safeguard Client Information: Hire personnel who specialize in IT and security to help safeguard the information of customers that are using your firm. While small companies may not have the resources to carry a full IT staff member, consider having an audit done but a professional. Its a small fee compared to the issues that will come from a data breach or personal information being spilled into the wrong hands. Hiring or constracting with professionals that specifically protect the personal information of customers will help your customers feel assured that you take the handling of their personal and financial information very seriously. It will also likely encourage new clients to try your services out knowing that you take such careful care of their sensitive and personal information. Getting an audit done by a professional service can also provide a certificate that proves you are protecting your clients information and this can be used as a trust and raport building benefit.
- Consider Using Credit Monitoring Services: Every business should consider using some sort of credit monitoring service to help determine if client's personal information has been compromised. Credit monitoring services will notify you and the client both if their credit score is being adversely affected which may be a sign of fraudulent activity which is using the client's information for unauthorized activity. Being notified that this is happening early as possible will help the client avoid having more damage done by someone getting a hold of their personal information. If you get reports that your client's credit is shifting rapidly, contact them and help investigate to see if they may have had their information compromised before it's too late.
- Provide ID Fraud To Your Customers: Offering low-cost or complimentary workshops seminars to your customers about how to spot ID fraud or compromise of their personal information to help them proactively protect their own identity. Running these workshops or seminars throughout the year can help customers feel more comfortable if they know what to look for if to determine if their information has been compromised. Helping customers protect themselves is another great way for firms to take a proactive approach to working with their clients to protect their identity and personal information.
- Train Employees (Especially CPAs) To Spot Identity Fraud: There are certain signs that may indicate that someone's information has been compromised. Training your employees on how to spot the most common signs of ID fraud while working with customers will help spot and save some cases of identity theft. While no employee will catch every single case of fraud as many are very discreet, knowing the most obvious signs of fraud can help you protect customer information when you know the signs that fraud has been committed with their personal information.
- Have Cyber Liability Insurance: Every firm should consider carrying some sort of cyber liability insurance in case a cyber theft of client's or customer's information was ever carried out. Despite all of your most carefully laid plans and precautions, sometimes fraudsters will still be able to get into your company's database and get your client's personal information. In the rare case were a database breach does happen, having liability insurance to cover your company and protect your assets from lawsuits which may ensue can help protect your firm's future as a whole. The idea and the hope are that you never need to use this liability insurance, but then it's better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it.
These are just a few precautions that businesses can take to help ensure that their client's information is as well protected as possible. While even with these safeguards in place, nothing is a guarantee, these precautions can help cut down on the chances of a client having their information compromised. If their information is compromised, it can help you become aware of it sooner to protect them from serious, permanent, long-term damage from ID theft.
The Best Cure Is Being Prepared:
The best way to help avoid client information being compromised is to be prepared by protecting their information as best you can in the first place. Having safety precautions in place, such as those listed above, will ensure that you are protecting client information in every way you can.
Moreover, if ID fraud is going to occur, your business and your client will be aware of it more quickly and be able to stop permanent damage from being done.
These precautions and safeguards are things you hope that you will never have to use, but it's always better to be prepared and not need the protection than to need the protection but not have it. Personal information of your clients is precious and you can never be too careful protecting your business and your clients from those who want to compromise that information.
For more information on how to help protect your business as well as how to help your clients protect their own information and spot fraud of their ID please feel free to contact us.