If you’ve spent any time reading our content, you know that virtually any company in America today is vulnerable to business identity theft.
Thanks to antiquated laws and the states’ insistence on posting critical, identifying information about companies on their own, public-facing websites, cybercriminals don’t have to work that hard to find targets.
But you may be wondering: What businesses are the most attractive to identity thieves?
The answer may surprise you.
Criminals like established businesses with good credit
If all businesses are vulnerable to identity theft and all of them have their information out in the public sphere, how do cybercriminals choose which companies to target?
Well, since this crime is all about enrichment, criminals are going to be most interested in companies with access to money. Lots of it.
That means companies with good credit and a long track record are going to be more attractive than startups or struggling firms.
That narrows the field a bit – but still. There are a lot of businesses in America that fit that profile.
How do identity thieves choose among the multitudes of established businesses with good credit?
A criminal profile
Like all people, cybercriminals are creatures of habit. That means if they know how to successfully commit one kind of crime, they’ll stick with it.
Say you’re an identity thief who has already successfully impersonated a business and used that identity to purchase a large, industrial printer on credit. You’ve made a tidy profit selling that printer and you haven’t been caught.
You’d want to do that again, right?
If that’s the case, you’re probably going to start targeting businesses with “printing” or “publishing” in the name because those kinds of businesses are going to be more likely to legitimately need to purchase industrial-sized printers.
So, for you, the most attractive businesses to steal are going to be those that fit your profile.
But that profile is only true for you. It’s not going to apply to all business identity thieves.
And even if it did, there’s still an awful lot of businesses in that line of work. How do criminals narrow their focus?
Don't be careless
The cold, hard truth is that cybercriminals aren’t most concerned about the nature of the businesses they’re targeting, but rather the business people behind them.
The most attractive businesses to steal are those run by owners who are lackadaisical, who aren’t watching their business like a hawk.
As we say here at Company Alarm, identity thieves need time to make mischief. Sure, they can hijack a business in just a few minutes using an online business portal like the Nevada Secretary of State’s SilverFlume.
But once they’ve taken over your company, they still need time – days if not weeks – to contact lenders, arrange for loans, etc.
What kind of business owner gives cybercriminals the most amount of time to cause problems? Careless ones. Ones who aren’t paying attention to the kind of information their employees throw into the trash, who aren’t watching their business filings with their local secretary of state, who are so busy that they don’t have time to worry about odd correspondence that if they thought about it for even just a second would make them wonder why they were getting it.
The best defense against business identity theft is vigilance. If you don’t want to be a victim, you need to be carefully reading your mail and e-mail, looking for any messages that might indicate an unauthorized loan has been taken out in your business’s name. Yes, that can be difficult for a busy executive. But it’s vital if you want to avoid being a victim.
You also need to spend the time to train your staff on the warning signs of business identity theft. You need to teach them they have to be careful about what they throw away or leave on their desk, or the kind of information they post on your company website. (For example, one the worst things you can do is post your federal Employer Identification Number online.)
It’s a lot – I know. But Company Alarm can help. Not only do we offer a lot of educational material on what to do to combat business identity theft, we also can take on some of the burden for you as well through our 24-hour monitoring of your business filings with the state.
Company Alarm is dedicated to helping business owners protect what they have worked so hard to build. Our monitoring software is designed to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting loopholes to hijack your company and assets. To sign up for this low-cost, value-added protection, click here.