Business Identity Theft
Business identity theft occurs when thieves pose as representatives of the business to gain access to cash, credit, or loans. Thieves get this access by stealing bank account, credit card, or business information. These thefts often go unnoticed until significant damage is already done, which can take a lot of time to repair.
Because business identify theft is lesser known than personal identity theft, people tend to be less aware of attempts to gain a business’s sensitive information.
Some ways that thieves might get the information they're looking for include:
- Stealing the business's mail
- Searching through the business's trash
- Hacking into the business's computer system
- And contacting employees of the business by phone or e-mail.
There are multiple things that thieves might do with the information they obtain such as opening bank accounts, credit cards, or loans in the business's name, obtaining temporary office space, and ordering merchandise or services. To prevent such identity theft, you can protect your business information, raise awareness within your organization, and monitor your business's credit.
There are several differences between consumer and business credit reports. Consumer credit reports are based on information primarily provided by lenders and can only be accessed by businesses (such as banks or potential employers) once the individual has granted permission.
Business credit reports include information from creditors and in some instances supplemental information from businesses themselves. Business credit reports can be accessed by anyone without the permission of the business. In addition to the major consumer credit bureaus, there are other agencies that report only on business credit, such as Dun & Bradstreet. Business credit reports are not provided for free, but like consumer credit reports, each agency provides a potentially different report.
To get started, you can purchase reports or monitoring services directly from reporting agencies. Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax all report on business credit. A variety of companies also offer small business credit monitoring services. Be sure to use every available means to protect your business from identity theft because the costs can be immense. In fact, 60% of business that are victims of identity theft will close within one year.