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September 29, 2009

American Banking News has a good article with tips about how small businesses can better protect themselves from becoming victimized by identity theft.  The full article is at
1. Be Careful What You Throw Away
Identity thieves are skilled dumpster divers. If you or your employees throw away papers that include bank account numbers, social security numbers, and other information that can be used to perpetuate fraud, there’s a good chance that the data could end up in the hands of unscrupulous characters. Make it a firm policy to shred all waste paper that has any information that could possibly be used by people who might be looking to steal someone else’s identity.
If you only have a small quantity of this type of documentation, it will probably be feasible to handle shredding in-house, with shredders placed in strategic locations around your place of business. If your business generates a large quantity of documentation that contains protected information, it may be better for you to hire a document shredding company to take care of destroying throw away documents that may contain sensitive information.
2. Take Steps to Protect Data Stored on Company Computers
Verify that the virus protection and firewall software installed on your computer system remains current at all times. Make sure that you are using a quality virus protection program and set it up to run daily scans so that you can be as safe from computer viruses as possible. It’s also important to check for updates to your virus software and install them as soon as they become available.
It’s also a good idea to set up every desktop computer and laptop so that a password is required for login. This can help protect stored data in the event that the equipment is lost or stolen and ends up in the wrong hands. This is not a foolproof protection, of course, because skilled hackers can find their way around password protection in many cases. However, it’s certainly better than leaving computer equipment unprotected.
When your company upgrades computer equipment, it’s essential to dispose of your old equipment responsibly. Simply deleting files from your old hard drive is not sufficient to keep identity thieves from stealing your confidential data if the equipment is not properly disposed of. The only truly safe way to get rid of data from your old computer is to shred the hard drives. The same companies that provide document shredding services typically also offer hard drive recycling.

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