In being a small business owner, you undoubtedly oftentimes have more on your plate than you feel you can handle.
Whether it is ordering inventory, meeting with clients, overseeing a small staff of employees, doing your best to advertise and market your brand on a limited budget, the challenges can add up quickly.
That said one area you probably do not pay enough attention to is the possibility of becoming the next identity theft victim.
Think it can’t happen to your small business? If so, think again.
With that being the case, what will you do to crush identity theft?
Being Pro-Active is a Necessity
Given the fact that identity theft thieves can and will strike at a moment’s notice, don’t be the small business owner left out to dry.
So that you can best protect your small business brand, remember these pointers:
- Security software – First and foremost, are you using a security software program to decrease the odds of becoming a victim? Unfortunately, too many small business owners balk at spending the time and money to find the best providers out there. In turn, they open themselves (and their customers for that matter) up to trouble. Be sure to vet any and all security software providers you are thinking of doing business with. There are companies out there that can review the various providers, doing much of the work for you. Those reviews will make it easier for you as a small business owner to decide why security software system is best suited to take care of your protection needs. Remember, you do not want to be the last data breach just before you go out and try to win-over new customers. Any prospective customer wants to be as assured as possible that your small business is one they can trust with their personal financial data;
- Don’t be a fool – It is bad enough that identity theft is something businesses of all makes and models have to deal with, but it is made worse yet when a business is all but willingly giving the criminals information. Such is the case if you (or your employees) accidentally provide sensitive customer and/or company financial data to the thieves. Make it a priority (remind your employees often) to avoid being careless with sensitive information when online and/or on the phone. It is not uncommon for identity theft thieves to call or email businesses, oftentimes posing as a current customer. Next thing you know, an unwitting employee has given out something about that customer that should have remainder in-house. Lastly, if you ever suspect one or more of your employees is actually committing identity theft against your company, investigate, and then work to remove them from their position, along with having charges brought against the individual or individuals if the proof is there;
- Avoid being too social – Finally, as great a tool as social media is in letting you promote your brand, it can actually work against you if you’re not careful. Always use caution when spending time on social networking sites. Identity theft thieves love using social venues to learn more about their intended victims, so protect your business and your customers. If you allow your employees to promote the company brand on social media, make sure they do it in a professional manner. It just takes one gaffe to allow an identity theft thief an opening into your small business. If you’re closing your small business down for a week’s vacation over the holidays, don’t shout about it on social media. Yes, hanging a “closed for vacation” sign in your office window is rather telling, but that means someone has to actually physically be in front of your office to know you’re gone. Telling the online world about it via social networking makes you more of a target, especially when online identity theft thieves and robbers/burglars combine forces.
So that your small business can navigate the tricky waters of identity theft, make sure you don’t leave your brand at risk.
When it comes right down to it, crush identity theft before it crushes you.
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.