In many ways, the Internet has ushered in a new golden era for small businesses. The endless resources of a global market, combined with the cost effectiveness of basing a business wherever you can afford the rent, has created the best environment possible for you to attempt your dream.
Unfortunately, this ease of connectivity has also made emerging companies more vulnerable to identity theft than ever before. While you definitely don’t want to overreact to this threat and let it affect your business aspirations, you’ll still want to keep a few things in mind as you expand your burgeoning empire. To get you prepared, here are 3 quick things to remember about the modern world, small businesses, and identity theft:
The Internet Has Made Important Personal Business Information Public Knowledge
It’s an unavoidable fact, one that you should always keep in mind. Your tax records, federal and state business licenses, legal names of the owner and any important officers, address, and much more are all available with a few keystrokes. And certain county, state, or federal documents that are scanned and archived may even have your signature on them.
In addition to all this vital info, any press releases, articles in the local paper, and other online forms of pr may give a possible attacker relevant information about your place of business and the people who run it.
Your Small Business Has Less Protection Than A More Established Company
If your business is only a few years old, you probably don’t have a dedicated department whose sole job is to protect your corporation from theft and online security breaches. And if, as the owner, you’re primarily in charge of all the cash that goes in and out each month, the odds are that you probably base your account passwords and security questions around personal issues that are easy to remember. Your business checking account may even be tied to your personal one, making it a tempting target for an identity thief.
It Can Be Surprisingly Easy To Establish Credit With A New Vendor Online
With a copy of your tax ID numbers and your signature, many places will allow a business with the right credentials to open an entry-level wholesale account with their company. You’re not likely to get an extensive credit limit right out of the box, but an enterprising thief can open a new vendor account in your name and quickly rack up several thousand dollars in orders that will be left for you to pay. This can be especially difficult to check for, as you’re not likely to hear from a vendor until you get that first month’s invoice in the mail.
While these facts can certainly be intimidating, you shouldn’t let them steer you away from launching your own small business. Running periodic credit checks on your company, being aware of what documents are available to the general public, and spending a bit more time each month on improving your security and probing for your own weak spots will go a long way toward protecting you from the disaster of identity theft.
John is a blogger who frequently discusses the impact of modern technology on small and emerging businesses. He writes for Protect Your Bubble, an Internet insurer that offers identity theft protection for those who want a little extra strength in their defensive strategies.