Business Identity Fraud Prevention Checklist

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1 Business Identity Fraud Prevention Checklist 9 Critical Things Every Business Owner Should Do Business identity thieves and fraudsters are clever and determined, and can quickly take advantage of business owners that do not take precautions to protect their business. These are some of the proactive measures that you, the business owner, should be doing to help prevent your business identity information from being hijacked and used by criminals to rip you off and commit fraud in your name. Inside >> 1. Protect and Monitor Your State Business Registration Information. 2. Protect and Monitor Your Business Bank Accounts and Lines of Credit. 3. Protect and Monitor Your Business Credit and Trade Accounts. 4. Protect and Regularly Review Your Business Credit File. 5. Protect Your Business Information and Identifiers. 6. Protect Your Business Computers and Networks. 7. Protect Your Website and Online Presence. 8. Protect Your Business From Fraudulent Orders - Trust, but Verify. 9. Be Alert for Suspicious Activity.

2 3 1. Protect and Monitor Your State Business Registration Information Enroll in Alerts Many Secretaries of State or Corporations Division business registration websites are beginning to offer free alert services that can notify a business owner when their business registration information, (name, address, registered agent, and business owner information) has been changed or updated. Enrolling in such a service can provide early warning of potential fraud. Regularly review your business registration information online If your Secretary of State or Corporations Division does not yet offer alerts, you can go their website and use the public Business Entity Search to enter your business name and review the information on file for your business. You should also periodically check any past businesses that you have closed, to ensure that they have not been reinstated. Be certain to file your annual reports and renewals in a timely manner 2. Protect and Monitor Your Business Bank Accounts and Lines of Credit Review your commercial / business banking agreements Business / commercial bank accounts are covered by the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Under the UCC, businesses have shorter reporting timelines, less protections, and higher liability for fraud than with consumer banking accounts. Additionally, individual banks can shorten the reporting timelines even further through their commercial banking agreements, so it is important to know your bank s policies as these can have a significant impact on your business liability for fraudulent transactions. Enroll in online banking Frequent account review and immediate reporting of suspicious or fraudulent transactions can reduce your business liability and potential fraud losses. Online banking allows you to quickly log in to your bank account and view your business account balance and transactions. Many banks also provide and text alerts. Through online banking, you can also eliminate mailed paper statements which can further reduce the risk that your business banking information may be stolen or exposed. 2

3 Think security when you access your accounts online Check your online banking and other financial accounts using one secure computer that maintains regularly updated anti-virus / anti-spyware / internet security software. Use strong passwords that could not be guessed by others, and that include upper and lower case letters, special characters, and numbers. Ideally, access your accounts using a computer that is not used by other persons or for non-business activities. Don t log in to your online accounts using public Wi-Fi hotspots, which may not be secure or could potentially be infected with spyware. Be wary of phishing scams Phishing scams are designed to trick you into divulging your personal and business account information (i.e. SSN, EIN, account number, user name, password, etc.) A legitimate financial institution will not request you to provide or verify this information through an . If you receive such an , notify your bank s fraud department and do not click on any links in the as doing so can connect you to a fraudulent website and/or cause spyware to be installed on your computer. If you pay by company check, enroll in Positive Pay Most U.S. commercial banks offer Positive Pay services which can significantly reduce business check fraud losses. Using Positive Pay, when you write business checks, you provide your bank with a list of check numbers and dollar amounts. Your bank compares any checks received for payment against your list. If a check doesn t match, it is identified as an exception and is not paid. Keep your business checking account supplies - including check stock, deposit slips, and endorsement stamps - in a secure location not accessible to unauthorized persons 3. Protect and Monitor Your Business Credit and Trade Accounts Maintain an inventory of accounts and key contact information Create a record of your business accounts, including creditor / financial institution, account number(s), card number(s) (including all employee cards), and key contact information for billing and fraud departments. Keep this list in a safe, secure location. This can minimize the time required to make notifications in the event that fraud is discovered. Carefully review account statements as soon as they are received Promptly notify the creditor if you discover any unrecognized or fraudulent transactions. Ask trade and credit references to notify you if contacted If your business provides or maintains a list of trade or credit references, request each reference to notify you if they are contacted by a third party. Business identity thieves often leverage a business trade and credit references to impersonate a business or to submit fraudulent account applications. 3

4 4. Protect and Regularly Review Your Business Credit File Review your business credit reports Though Dun & Bradstreet is the dominant source of business verification and information regarding a business credit worthiness, the 3 national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) also provide some business credit services. You can obtain copies of your business credit reports from these organizations and review them for suspicious activity and to ensure the information is accurate. Dun & Bradstreet Equifax Experian TransUnion Separate your business and personal finances Avoid using your personal credit cards, accounts, and lines of credit for business and instead use business cards for business related expenses and transactions. In addition to issues of sound business separation, accounting, and proper tax reporting, most financial institutions and major card issuers specifically exclude business related transactions conducted with personal cards from their zero fraud liability programs. Consider placing a security (credit) freeze on your personal credit file In most small businesses, the owner(s) are required to provide a personal guarantee for business accounts, and may be subject to a credit check. If you are not actively applying or planning to apply for new credit, you can place a security freeze on your personal credit to prevent businesses with whom you do not already have an existing relationship from accessing your credit file. This can help to reduce opportunities for thieves to fraudulently list you as a guarantor or open new credit accounts in your business name. 4

5 5. Protect Your Business Information and Identifiers Treat and protect your business EIN / TIN as you would your own Social Security number Thieves can fraudulently access or open many types of business accounts with your business name, address, and EIN. Keep all documents containing business information or business identifiers in a safe, secure location not accessible by unauthorized persons Securely shred old or unnecessary documents that contain your business information or business identifiers 6. Protect Your Business Computers and Networks Restrict the use of your business computers to only business activities Activities such as casual Internet surfing, use of social networks, online gaming, downloading programs, and file sharing expose your business computers to viruses, spyware, and other security risks that can jeopardize your business operations and the confidential information of your business, customers, and employees. Use regularly updated anti-virus / anti-spyware / internet security software Effective anti-virus, anti-spyware, and Internet security software programs are essential. Be certain to utilize a program that actively scans and is frequently updated to keep up with new threats. Keep security patches and updates up-to-date It is critically important to regularly check for and install any security updates for your computer s operating system to ensure that you have the latest version designed to protect against known software vulnerabilities. Most newer operating systems permit the user to set an automatic update schedule with a specified frequency. You should set your system to check for and install important security updates no less than weekly. Install a firewall on your business computers or network A firewall is a software program or hardware device that monitors and controls external connections to your computer and/or network. Firewalls help to prevent unauthorized or unwanted external connections, and are your first line of defense against intrusion attempts and malicious code attacks. 5

6 Secure your wireless network If your business wireless network is not secured (encrypted), others can gain access to your network. Average Wi-Fi signals can extend for hundreds of feet beyond the perimeter of the building. Off the shelf wireless network devices typically do not come with their security features active, so review the product documentation to learn how to set the security features for your device, or call the manufacturer if you need assistance. WPA2 is currently the strongest wireless network encryption standard and is available on most newer wireless network devices. 7. Protect Your Website and Online Presence Export and erase all information from web applications associated with expiring domain names If your business owns a domain name that is expiring and is not going to be renewed, and you have used the domain for s, calendaring, or other online applications such as Google Apps, be certain to delete all information in these apps prior to allowing the domain to expire. Known security vulnerabilities can allow anyone who later purchases the domain to access the applications associated with the domain, such as accounts, passwords, other online account credentials, contacts, social networking accounts, and calendars. Google Alerts Because thieves can impersonate your business in other states or on the Internet, a simple, proactive step that you can take is to use a Google feature known as Google Alerts. Rather than taking time away from your business to conduct an Internet search, Google Alerts allow you to quickly set and receive alerts of search results and news stories that match terms you specify, such as your business name. Whois Database and Domain Privacy Thieves, scammers, and spammers frequently utilize the public Whois database, which provides information regarding the owner of an Internet domain name (including owner name, key contacts, address, , and telephone number) and can be used in a variety of scams and also for spam . If your business owns one or more Internet domains and/or maintains a website, you might consider opting for a domain registration privacy service which replaces your business information in the Whois database with that of the domain privacy service. Your business retains full ownership and control of the domain, but your information is better protected from scammers and prying eyes. 6

7 8. Protect Your Business From Fraudulent Orders - Trust, but Verify Be alert for large or unusual orders from unknown customers or companies While a large, unexpected order can be a welcome surprise, be certain to review the order and customer information provided before providing products or services to avoid unwelcome fraud losses. Is the order size or quantity unusual? Is the information provided a potential cause for concern (such as an overseas shipping address, a P.O. Box, or a maildrop)? Is the billing or shipping name and information different than the actual customer information? Is overnight or expedited delivery requested with an apparent lack of concern for high shipping costs? Were there repeated failed transactions? Unusual orders or customer information can be a sign of attempted fraud, and taking a few moments to review and confirm the validity of the order can save your business from loss of goods, services, chargeback fees, and other potential losses. For business orders with payments terms or delivery / shipment with invoicing, check the business customer s credit and references prior to providing your products or services. Utilize fraud prevention services for online order processing Most payment gateway providers offer fraud prevention services, such as zip code / address or card code verification, designed to help detect and minimize potentially fraudulent orders placed with stolen credit card information. This is especially important for online Card Not Present transactions where merchant liability for fraudulent transactions is higher. Utilizing these services can save your business from loss of goods, services, chargeback fees, and other potential losses. Be alert for and respond quickly to customer notifications of fraudulent orders If your business receives a notification of a fraudulent order or use of a stolen credit card, or if you suspect that an order made with a payment card may be fraudulent, immediately follow the notification procedures outlined by your payment processor. The processor will notify the issuing financial institution, which will in turn follow up with the legitimate cardholder. 7

8 9. Be Alert for Suspicious Activity Remain vigilant and be alert for suspicious or unusual activity. Mis-addressed business mail, missing or late account statements, unusual inquiries, or telephone calls and correspondence regarding unknown accounts are all potential indicators that something may be wrong. Remember, thieves use haste, carelessness, and lack of attention to their advantage. The longer you wait to follow-up, the more damage they can do. If you suspect your business is a victim of business identity theft, contact an idefend Business Identity Theft Specialist immediately at (801) Copyright 2011 INVISUS LLC. All rights reserved v1.03 INVISUS LLC 1276 South 820 East, Suite 140 American Fork, Utah

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