While personal identity theft has garnered a lot of attention, there has been little attention about business identity theft, yet the harm can be substantial.
Identity thieves pray on small businesses that may not adequately protect their business and financial information, attempting to open accounts, secure credit or make purchases using the business’ identity. The identity fraud protections you may have on your personal credit cards are generally not applicable to business purchases. Therefore, you should consider taking at least the following actions:
- Frequently monitor your credit, checking and other accounts for suspicious transactions or delayed deposits.
- Periodically order and monitor credit reports from the three main credit agencies, Dunn & Bradstreet and others.
- Separate your business finances from any personal finances, and protect both business and personal financial information.
- Periodically check with the Secretary of State’s office to ensure your business history, entities and details are accurate, and there are no unauthorized changes.
- Limit employee and third party access to business financial information.
- Train your employees to look for the red flags of business identity theft, including misaddressed business mail, unexpected account statements, phone calls regarding unfamiliar accounts, and questionable e-mails.
- Limit financial information disclosed and only give it to trusted vendors.
- Consider identity theft insurance.
While you are generally not liable for a debt created by an identity thief, you must act reasonably to prevent such situations, and the cost and damage to your business can still be substantial.
Brooks, Tarulis & Tibble, LLC have long represented businesses in dealing with credit, collection and other business problems. If we can assist you in this regard, please contact us.