Monday, November 13, 2006

Business Identity Theft Is Real

As a business owner or employee, do you really understand the serious consequences of identity theft to your business? Are you aware that federal and state laws for identity theft and privacy are written to protect the consumer, not your business?

These laws (with hefty fines and potential civil and criminal penalties) apply to any business (large, small, or sole proprietor) that collects personal information about customers or employees (including names, credit card numbers, birthdates, home addresses, and more). Any company that accidentally discloses data protected by privacy laws runs a risk of litigation.

Business owners, employees (and consumers) who learn about and take necessary precautions now for . . .
1. personal and business Identity theft differences and best security practices;
2. privacy and identity theft laws and how to meet compliance regulations;
3. your business risk for identity theft; and
4. the affirmative defense that will help mitigate risk during litigation

. . .will likely survive the ramifications, should they fall prey to a security breach or identity theft.

By the way, don’t think that it is just individuals who become victims of identity thieves. The business entity itself can be a thief’s favorite victim! Thieves love the holidays, too!

A good place to begin learning about best security and privacy practices is the Better Business Bureau’s Toolkit. It will give you a non-technical roadmap to securing your customer and employees' data. You can download this helpful and educational document at It will NOT give you, however, a complete affirmative defense solution.

If learning and implementing data security and privacy management programs seems overwhelming and costly, get over it!

Would your business survive losing 20-60 percent of your client base due to a security breach caused by non-compliance to federal security requirements or negligence? A breach costs 15 times more than preventive security measures, such as encryption of data. Cleaning up after a breach or identity theft would be overwhelming and costly, wouldn’t it? Your clients and their trust would disappear . . . and that’s a fact!

Remember, security wins!

Submitted by Lois Hale, MS Reno, NV
ICFE Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist
ADRS Certified Group Security Specialist


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