Identity Theft

Today we were working with a client who has been battling credit card and identity theft.

I felt their frustration as they struggled not only to staunch the bleeding but to regain some sort of control. Additionally they wonder how this could have happened. From an I.T. perspective, I thought of a few things they might do differently. Please note that no one is really safe in my opinion and these are simply a few ideas to make you NOT the easy target. Note that I use almost all of these myself ever since my card was used fraudulently a few months ago.

1. Setup an email address that is used ONLY for confidential, financial dealings and do not publish it to anyone, including household or office staff.

2. Change all bank and credit card statements to e-statements and deliver them to this new email address.

3. Have a P.O. box that does NOT have your name attached to it.

4. Change your driver’s license to your PO box.

5. Have good separations between personal and business and consider having a PO box for each.

6. The billing address for your credit cards MUST be confidential and do not give it out unless absolutely necessary or have it posted anywhere visible. ASK companies that you pay by credit card how they keep your information safe!

7. When using ATM and Credit Card readers at gas stations and ATM’s, be cautious, cover the PIN pad and lookout for alterations or cameras. Here’s a link to a youtube video of what a skimmer might look like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoN6dUI-Me8
Even safer? Go inside the store to pay.

8. Keep a list of websites that you shop at online that have your credit card on file and be very cautious about which sites have this info. Amazon is safe in my opinion, as is possibly iTunes – HOWEVER, you must keep a very strong password for these sites and be certain that the password is not the same as your email password!

9. Keep a spreadsheet of your bills that you pay automatically by credit card, so that if you are victimized and need to quickly close credit card accounts, you can easily see who you need to call and update the card on file.

10. Do background checks on all employees and have processes and spreadsheets to track what information is given to each employee. That way, if there is a problem you can quickly reverse access as required. Remove the opportunity to steal. Establish a system of checks and balances and oversight for key processes that ensures different people are performing tasks and can routinely check one another’s work. Have an outside auditor perform an unscheduled inspection from time to time. Ensure that employees responsible for accounting and financial functions take time off routinely so irregularities in their work are more easily spotted.

If you are already dealing with an unfortunate situation, here are some tips from the FTC as to steps you need to take:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/defend.html

1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.

2. Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

5. Use this checklist to keep track of your progress: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/resources/forms/chart-course-action.pdf

In closing, I wish everyone safety and to just be a little more cautious especially with the holidays approaching.

2 comments

  1. Dan Mulroy says:

    Another well written, informative post. Thanks! I’ll be sure to pass this along.

  2. Ryan says:

    Also, a lot of online vendors accept Paypal and Google Checkout for payment, so you don’t have to give each vendor your credit card number directly.

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