Recent headlines have shed light on a growing problem, individuals who retrieve and sell personal information that a business has collected for legitimate reasons. Consider the following:
So how does this happen? An individual can do everything right, from shredding documents containing sensitive personal information to monitoring credit reports but the reality is your personal information is only as safe as the organization protecting it.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses the identifying information of another person, such as name or social security number to commit fraud or engage in other unlawful activities. While numerous variations of the crime exist, an identity thief can fraudulently use personal identifying information to, among other things:
Identity theft rings have been known to recruit individuals who work within an organization or they seek employment themselves in positions where they have access to personnel records, credit reports or other sources of personal information. Identity theft rings pay individuals anywhere from $20-60 an identity.
One major problem with incidents of this nature is some organizations try to avoid potential embarrassment and negative publicity by not informing employees or customer that their personal information may have been compromised.
When whole groups of people are victimized, there are more clues.
In one case, a teacher at a middle school complained to a colleague when bill collectors started calling him at work. Another teacher who had also been victimized overheard him. When they began to inquire they soon found out various other teachers had also been the victims of identity theft.
After checking credit records four teachers found they had the same fraudulent address on their credit reports. The identity thieves had also applied for the same card on almost every teachers record.
Times have changed and organizations can no longer take a head in the sand approach when dealing with identity theft.
Organizations can implement the following safeguards to prevent identity theft in the workplace:
There are numerous opportunities to educate employees on identity theft prevention and the steps to take if they become victims: new employee orientations, annual staff orientations, training conferences, workshops, and departmental meetings are just a few. Brown-bag lunch training sessions have also been found to be helpful.
Security awareness could also be increased through the use of posters, newsletter articles, e-mails, video presentations and other promotion vehicles such as brochures or booklets that address identity theft. Stock relevant publications and audio-visual programs and make them accessible to company executives and employees.
Identity theft is a crime of opportunity. Vigilance and awareness is essential in combating the fast growing non-discriminatory crime.
Johnny May is an independent trainer/consultant who specializes in protecting individuals and organization from identity theft. He is also the author of Johnny May's Guide to Preventing Identity Theft and the featured expert in the video production Identity Theft: How to Protect Your Credit, Your Money and Your Good Name. For more information visit http://www.identitytheftinfo.com or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org