System hacks! Data Breach! Consumer information stolen! Identity theft! It seems these headlines appear more frequently and are enough to start the heart racing of businesses and consumers alike. Many don’t understand how this happens and think only big companies like Equifax, Target and Home Depot are vulnerable. Wrong.


Identity Theft- Driving License

The reality is no one is safe from a system compromise. From malware unknowingly downloaded to a personal computer to employee errors that expose customer data to social engineering…we’re all vulnerable. The financial industry implements changes like EMV (chip cards) to reduce card-cloning in retail stores and many restaurants. But having a digital life or a company website means a breach can happen to anyone at anytime.

The negative press to a business from a data breach is bad enough. Putting customers at risk for identity theft takes it to another level. Over $16 billion was stolen from consumers in 2016, roughly $1,300 per victim. While that amount may seem low, in perspective, the time involved is not.

Theft caught early might take eight hours to resolve; for many, however, hundreds of hours are spent reclaiming their identity. Then there’s the person that never fully restores his or her identity–one in four victims faces this reality.

If you’re a business owner, fraud prevention doesn’t cost millions. Many of the protection tips apply to consumer households, too.

Protect your credit cards and bank accounts by separating the personal from the business.
Secure your technology infrastructure. Invest in antivirus software, malware, spyware and a firewall. Regularly backup your data. Good advice for everyone!

Keep the social media and web-surfing computer separate from the banking one. Households should regularly check security and privacy settings on social media accounts. Clear cookies and cache frequently.
Change passwords every 60-90 days.

Businesses and consumers must work together to safeguard nonpublic, personal information. All our identities and millions of dollars are at stake.