One of the biggest crime waves occurring right now is not taking place on the street. Instead, it is taking place in the digital realm. Identity theft and the resulting fraud costs Americans $16 billion a year.
Identity theft is a huge problem that affects millions of Americans. If you don’t want to become a victim, you need to take precautions. Below are some preventive measures you can take to protect you and your business from identity thieves.
Use Third Party Online Payment Systems When You Can
Releasing your business or personal credit card number to a large number of websites can greatly increase your chances of becoming the victim of fraud. It only takes one of those sites being hacked to lead to you being victimized. However, you can use third party payment systems like PayPal to help better obscure your credit and debit card details when making purchases. In fact, you really don’t need a card at all to use PayPal. The service can remove the funds directly from your company checking account.
Get Security Chips on Your Credit and Debit Cards
The new standard for both Visa and Master Card is to include a microchip on the cards that helps to verify purchases. Traditional cards, however, used a magnetic strip with static data that could be more easily stolen by identity thieves. Purchases made via chip cards however use different data for each purchase. This makes them far more secure. If you don’t have one yet, call your credit card company or bank and ask them to update your cards.
Upgrade Your Physical Protection
Although we tend to think of identity thieves in terms of the internet, they could also target your physical business as well. This kind of theft can be more nefarious since you may not notice anything missing until it’s too late and you have been defrauded of thousands of dollars. Make sure to shred any important documents you put in your trash. Also make sure your building is physically secured. Consider hiring a locksmith to upgrade your door locks. Smart door locks, for example, can be programmed to only open with the scanning of a thumb print or retina.
Identity theft is a huge risk for millions of people and especially businesses. If you make business purchase online, use a credit card or store financial information in your office, you could be a target. Do everything you can to protect your company. Being cautious can help you to avoid a financial catastrophe.
Guest author, Kara Masterson, is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.