System hacks. Transaction data stolen. ID theft. If you own a small business, those words are enough to start your heart racing. You wonder how something like this could happen when a) you have a small business, thinking you’re not big enough to get noticed online; and b) you’ve done everything you can afford to do to protect yourself.
The reality is no one is immune to hacks and data breaches. Recent financial industry changes, like EMV (chip cards), reduced card-cloning in retail stores and many restaurants. Some small businesses like yours have extra time to comply with these changes due to the expense of implementing chip readers. If you have an online presence (and who doesn’t these days?), fraud can happen almost anywhere during a transaction.
The worst case with ID theft
Your worst nightmare? The negative press to your business from a data breach and the cost of customer notification, plus putting customers and yourself at risk for identity theft. Over $16 billion was stolen from online consumers in 2016, which is roughly $1,300 per victim.
The silver lining in all this is that the theft is being caught sooner due to an increase in digital expertise. Even better, you can stop it before it happens!
Fraud prevention tactics
Fraud prevention is critical to your small business, but it doesn’t have to cost millions. Here are some low-cost steps you can take now:
- Separate the personal accounts from the business ones. Limit your exposure if someone steals the business account information.
- Secure your technology infrastructure. Invest in anti-virus software, malware, spyware, and a firewall.
- Backup all of your data regularly.
- Use corporate VPNs for remote employees. IPVanish is highly recommended.
- Create a password policy that requires changes every 60-90 days.
- Invest in security training for your employees so they understand current trends.
- Consider cyber liability insurance that covers the cost of fines, fees, and customer notification if the worst should happen.
Being small isn’t a “hall pass” from protecting nonpublic, personal information. Your customers are counting on you. All our identities and millions of dollars are at stake.