Moving is a pain – especially when you’re moving your business. You have phone and internet services to turn on and off, mail to forward, movers to coordinate, a million things to keep track of. It’s overwhelming.
Which makes it the perfect time for identity thieves to target your business.
Identity thieves count on the owners of their targeted businesses to be oblivious to their actions. They operate in the shadows, hoping business owners don’t notice their companies have been hijacked for weeks or even months, which gives the thieves plenty of time to make mischief and drain your assets.
Sometimes, they specifically look for business owners who are busy with other projects, banking on the fact that these businesspeople will have their attention elsewhere.
That’s what makes businesses in the process of moving such an alluring target: The owners and other staff members are swamped with the immediate tasks of coordinating the move, making them far less likely to notice when the business is hijacked and loans are taken out in their name.
So, what’s a businessperson to do when you have to change offices? How can you protect your business from an identity thief waiting in the weeds to pounce?
In my experience, the best way to safeguard yourself and your assets is to stay on top of your paperwork and monitor your physical surroundings carefully.
Update your address with the proper authorities.
As soon as you’ve identified your new office space and begun moving your operations, immediately forward your mail to your new address and update your address with your local Secretary of State.
If you wait to forward your mail later into your move, that gives identity thieves a window of opportunity to change your mailing address to a third location, intercept your correspondence and being plundering your business.
Likewise, waiting to change your address on file with the Secretary of State gives scammers a chance to beat you to the punch. If you update your address early in the moving process and then scammers change the mailing address again, you’ll have solid evidence to give the Secretary of State that something funny is amiss.
After all, what business would change its address multiple times over a short period?
Monitor your snail mail.
During your move, you also want to monitor the mail you receive at both locations. Be on the lookout for correspondence from any unfamiliar banks, lenders, vendors or services.
Fraudsters steal businesses to exploit their assets and good credit. That means identity thieves frequently purchase cell phones or luxury vehicles using a stolen business’s credit or open up new bank accounts in the business’s name, among many other scams.
Any letters welcoming you to a new bank or documenting new lines of credit should immediately set off alarm bells. Contact the senders as soon as humanly possible and get to the bottom of why you’re receiving the correspondence.
Watch out for what you throw out.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do during your move to protect yourself is monitoring what you and your staff throw away and what you leave behind in your old office.
Identity thieves of all kinds will go to extraordinary lengths to obtain information about their targets – including dumpster diving. That means you want to be extremely careful about any documents you throw away.
Any piece of paper, including envelopes, that include personal identifying information or critical data about the business, such as its federal Employer Identification Number, should be redacted or shredded before it’s thrown away.
By the same token, you want to carefully review anything left behind at your old office before you vacate the premises for the last time. Critical information resides everywhere, on stray sticky notes, furniture tags and discarded boxes.
You’ll want to look over everything carefully before you leave your old office.
Keep an eye on your information.
Of course, you can do all of these things and still become the victim of business identity theft. Which is why a subscription to Company Alarm is an essential defense.
Our services monitor the information on file about your business with your local Secretary of State office. The moment anything is changed – your official address, the name of your managing member – you’ll receive a detailed text message alerting you to exactly what has changed.
You might be besieged in the minutiae of moving. But a Company Alarm text message in the midst of that chaos will bring your attention instantly to a potential threat to your business.
Trust me, you’ll want to know if you’re under attack before you finish moving.
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.