How secure are your business assets from identity theft, fraud and cybercrime? Fraud is one of the most common ways that businesses lose money, but there are steps you can take to avoid being the victim of fraud and ID theft.
Fraud that affects businesses can include:
- Mail Fraud — use of the US Postal Service to falsely represent a company
- Bankruptcy Fraud — hiding or undervaluing assets, or concealing important information about a company
- Employment Fraud — falsifying an employment application
- Insurance Fraud — falsifying an injury or insurance claim
- Wire Fraud — making false representations via electronic communications
- Identity Theft — stealing tax, business or credit card information
- Insider and Employee Fraud — This type of fraud includes the theft of assets and accounting fraud (often called embezzlement). Employee fraud can also include cash skimming, fake checks, or stealing goods and supplies.
- Customer Fraud — Customer fraud can include bad checks, bad credit cards, returning items not purchased for a refund (called return fraud), and shoplifting.
- Contractor or Vendor Fraud — Vendors or subcontractors who do work for your company can over-charge, bill for work not done, or shortchange you on work.
You can't prevent every instance of fraud, but you can take precautions:
- Background checks for new employees
- Check new employees' credit report (with a signed release), especially if they'll be working in any kind of financial role
- Run a social media audit on potential employees — especially look for past animosity against former employers
- Implement policies to protect your company's reputation- make sure you outline expected behavior any time they are representing the company, including any mentions on social media
- Train employees how to spot counterfeit money, stolen credit cards, bad checks, etc. Develop policies for these situations
- Create inventory control policies to track assets and help prevent large losses
- Verify invoices and payments
- Secure Your IT Infrastructure — Every business owner should invest in a firewall as well as anti-virus, malware and spyware detection software. Backing-up is also a must and will make it a lot easier for you to continue working in the event of a cyber-attack.
- Institute a Password Policy:
Another easy step you can take to protect your IT systems is to institute a password policy.
- Make sure you and your employees change them regularly (every 60 to 90 days is a good rule)
- Set rules that ensure passwords are complex (i.e. contain one upper case letter, one number and must be a minimum of eight characters)
- Use different passwords for different online and system accounts
- Set up a surveillance system to keep an eye on customers and employees
- Monitor your business accounts regularly for ID theft and fraud