Could Identity Theft Impact Your Small Business?

Millions of people each year are impacted by identity theft–a statistic that now includes small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration. Crafty thieves are coming up with creative ways to scam small business owners. In fact, according to the Ponemon Institute, 60 percent of small businesses have had at least one data breach in the past year, emphasizing the importance of having identity protection in place. Valuable customer data and inside information can be leaked through these data breaches, damaging your company’s reputation and potentially costing business.

“Security breaches continue to be a major concern for companies of all sizes, but small businesses are especially at risk given their limited resources and lack of security expertise,” said Dale Dabbs, CEO of EZShield.

In addition to EZShield, several services are now available to help small businesses prevent data breaches. When looking at cost, it’s important to weigh it against the potential costs you’ll incur if a data breach happens.

  • EZShield–With a full assessment to determine each business’s needs, EZShield provides a consultant to help with implementing security and reacting if an identity breach occurs. The service also allows businesses to extend identity theft protection to employees as an additional perk. Basic protection starts at only $5.90 per month.
  • IDefend Business–When it comes to identity protection, knowledge is power. IDefend Business keeps an eye out for businesses, providing alerts and reports from Dun & Bradstreet. iDefend Business costs $29.95 a month.
  • Firewalls–Every small business should have a strong firewall in place to protect data. If your services are now Cloud-based, still make sure each PC is protected. Services like ZoneAlarm and Symantec Endpoint Protection are both proven and affordable.
  • Positive Pay–Avoid fraudulent checks by signing up for this service through your financial institution. You let the bank know which checks have been written against your accounts and the bank verifies those checks before cashing them. Since check fraud is such a prevalent crime, this can save businesses thousands of dollars.
  • Online tools–As we pointed out earlier this year, several resources are available to help you learn more about protecting your business. The National Association of Secretaries of State has joined forces with the Identity Theft Protection Association to form The site provides a toolkit to help small businesses learn to protect and monitor accounts, put controls in place, and keep your data safe. The information on the site is free to access, so businesses have nothing to lose.

Identity theft is a problem for both businesses and individuals. Business owners have an additional level of responsibility, however, since they are intrusted with valuable customer data. Identity theft can not only harm a business’s bottom line, it can shutter that business for good. By utilizing the above-mentioned tools, you can keep your customers and your private data safe from the eyes of criminals without spending fortune.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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