National Identity Fraud Prevention Week – are you doing enough?
This week is National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, a nationwide scheme set up to help businesses all over the UK help in the battle against identity fraud.
Home Office figures state that the cost to the economy of fraud is currently ┬ú1.7bn a year, and ┬ú50m of this is carried by small businesses alone.
When it comes to identity fraud, research shows that 79% of businesses make no effort to destroy sensitive material before throwing it away, and 97% of employees believe that their company does not completely protects customers’ identities. Furthermore, 71% of UK employees think their companies should do more to ensure confidential documents are handled responsibly.
How to avoid identity fraud
So what can you do to help prevent fraud for your small business? The National Identity Fraud Prevention Week website at www.stop-idfraud.co.uk has come up with a list of pointers to help you stay safe and free from fraud, and have also created a free download packed full of useful information – visit their website for more details.
In the meantime, here are five quick stop-idfraud tips to help you steer clear of criminals:
1) Don’t get hijacked… By registering with Companies House, you can sign up to their Electronic Filing, PROOF and Monitor services which helps to stop criminals from ‘hijacking’ your company and changing your directors’ names.
2) Create clear guidelines… Research shows that 32% of employees always throw sensitive documents straight into the bin. This simple act can have disastrous consequences for your small business, so make sure you lay out a set of clear guidelines on how to dispose of sensitive documents, and fully inform your employees about the risks involved.
3) Shredding… Use a micro-shredder or cross-shredder to dispose of documents.
4) Destroy all materials… Identity fraud is not just associated with paper documents. DonΓÇÖt forget to shred CDs and DVDs too, and if youΓÇÖre throwing out old computers or laptops, make sure you wipe the hard drive clean first.
5) Check identities… Check the identity of your customers before doing business with them. Business credit reference agencies offer solutions to help verify the identity of your customers to ensure that they are who they say they are. You can do the same with suppliers and vendors before entering into a contract too.
Fraud can take many more forms aside from a threat to identity. A story by the Leicester Mercury highlights the problem of credit card fraud, and how one unfortunate businesswoman lost ┬ú1,000 as a result earlier this year.
Elly Grayston, owner of Airboss World, a company which makes kites for paragliding and other sports, said:
“I had an order for a ┬ú1,000 kite and the person asked for it to be sent to his friend’s house. It was signed for when it arrived, but then the purchaser said he never got it. We had to pay the ┬ú1,000 back to his bank account and we obviously didn’t get the kite back.”
Research suggests that more than one third of UK small businesses have been hit by fraud, and the UK also suffers from the highest rate of identity fraud in Europe.
According to the Leicester Mercury, Kamal Dhutia of the Leicester branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“Credit card fraud and other forms of identity fraud are a big problem. My advice is for small business owners to use agencies to keep track of their own company’s credit rating and changes of directors and things like that.
“Even with PIN numbers and everything else there are still a lot of transactions that take place without cardholders having to be present and there’s not much businesses can do to protect themselves in these circumstances.”
To find out more about combating fraud, visit www.stop-idfraud.co.uk.