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Identity theft: advice during national awareness campaign

The Aberdeen Times of Aberdeen, Idaho

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Don't let your business fall prey to phishers, scammers and credit card fraudsters

Identity theft is a serious issue, no matter who the victim is, but the situation can be more complicated when somebody tries to impersonate someone's business, says Greg Duggan owner of CMIT Solutions of Idaho Falls. That is why CMIT Solutions of Idaho Falls is offering tips and advice to small business owners in the local community for Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month this month.

"Since businesses need to make themselves visible to prospective customers, they are compelled to share a lot of information with the public that individuals tend to keep private, such as their phone number and address," Duggan said. "Easy access to private contact information means heightened vulnerability to identity theft."

According to security firm Panda Security, a significant percentage of small businesses haven't taken very basic steps to secure their data assets. A recent survey showed that "97 percent of U.S. small businesses have installed anti-virus and 95 percent claim their security systems are up to date. Yet, 29 percent said they have no anti-spam in place, 22 percent are without anti-spyware technology and 16 percent do not have firewalls. In addition, 52 percent said they have no Web filtering solution in place. And, 39 percent of respondents said that they have yet to be trained about IT threats."

"All an identity thief has to do is open up a mailbox in your shared office building, create a fake letterhead, and obtain your business license number, which many businesses are required by law to display. Then the thief is well on his or her way to opening up credit card accounts in your name, filing purchase orders, and running up bills that will eventually come to you," Duggan added.

So, what can business professionals do to prevent identity theft? Duggan provides the following advice:

1. Check Credit Cards - Review your business credit report regularly.

2. Review Employee Charge Cards - Go over employee charge card billing statements thoroughly before they are paid, especially if you've issued multiple cards for a single account.

3. Educate Employees - They should be on the lookout for phishers, phone and email scammers. People who would never think to open a suspicious-looking email in their personal inbox might not hesitate to turn over your Federal Tax Identification Number and names of key executives to someone posing as a vendor or a government representative.

4. Beware of "Inside" Theft - Once an employee leaves the company, make sure you immediately cut off access to all your IT resources. Unfortunately, a lot of identity theft is still an "inside job".

5. Protect Company Data-Install a business-class firewall, encrypt your network, assign access privileges sparingly, and perform regular updates to your security software.

"There is no better time than now to make more business owners aware of the dangers of identity theft. We want to bring light to this issue that affects many of our customers and others in the local community," Duggan said.

CMIT Solutions of Idaho Falls offers anti-spam, antivirus, and anti-spyware protection as part of CMIT Marathon - the company's suite of monitoring and maintenance services that keep your IT systems up, running, and protected, 24/7.

For more information about CMIT Solutions of Idaho Falls contact Greg Duggan at (208) 524-1401.

Copyright 2010 The Aberdeen Times, Aberdeen, Idaho. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 6, 2010

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