What are you doing to help ensure that your business identity is not stolen? We’ve all heard what happens if an individual’s identity is stolen—loans may be taken out in that person’s name, checks or government payouts may be misdirected and cashed by fraudsters, etc. Unfortunately, businesses that fail to protect their identities face the same type of risks. If this is not a scenario you have thought much about, you could be an easy target. These tips may help you make a positive start toward protecting your business identity:

1. Safeguard your EIN

Control access to your Employer Identification Number (EIN) so bad actors can't use it to steal your business identity. According to the IRS: "Identity theft is a serious threat to business, partnership, estate and trust filers. Thieves may steal sensitive information to file a fraudulent tax return for a refund or to commit other crimes. All taxpayers must be alert and on guard at all times. It is important to take strong security measures to protect your business' and your employees' data..”1

It's wise to treat your EIN the same way you would your own Social Security number. Only provide it in instances where it's absolutely necessary, like tax returns.

2. Keep an eye on business credit

Monitor your business credit regularly. Check your credit report for inaccuracies or suspicious activity and report it immediately if you find anything. Do the same with your personal credit report, as criminals may use your identity as a business owner to commit business identity fraud, not to mention identity theft in general.

3. Help make your business credit card more secure

Several options are available to help protect your credit card purchases, including zero liability, purchase security and extended protection, card alertsmobile card fraud alerts, and spending restrictions by merchant or category, which can help prevent misuse.2

4. Tighten your information security practices

Taking measures to make your data and network are more secure has been an ever-changing challenge for businesses, and doubly so for small businesses with limited resources. Take the proper precautions and consult with an expert if you don't have one on staff. Discuss cybersecurity concerns with employees and implement policies that everyone is required to adhere to, even if they’re working from home, and especially if they are working remotely in locations where they might be connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.3

5. Regularly check public records of your business

In addition to regularly checking your credit, you should also monitor your records. Dun & Bradstreet suggests proactively updating your live business identity to keep info up to date and enable you to validate information cited in an account.4 For example, they recommend looking for changes, inaccuracies, or missing information related to business name, address, phone number, ownership, and website. The same goes for state, county, and city records, licenses, etc.

6. Help protect your bank accounts

Help keep your business bank accounts safe from fraud. BusinessIDTheft.org says to do this by: enacting security and authentication controls to protect against fraudulent wire transfers and electronic transactions; monitoring accounts daily; using common sense security practices while accessing your accounts online, such as not doing so on a public Wi-Fi hotspot; being wary of phishing scams; and keeping account supplies, such as checks, deposit slips, and endorsement stamps in a safe place.4

7. Use Positive Pay Advantage

With Nevada State Bank, you can help protect your accounts from check fraud using Positive Pay Advantage, which allows you to send a check file every time you issue checks, You enter your checks into the system online so Nevada State Bank can match your issues against checks presented for payment. Read more about the features and benefits of Positive Pay Advantage here.

The main takeaway is that as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact businesses, there will likely be more and more cases of criminals trying to steal business identities. It is time to be extra vigilant to help keep yours safe.

1. https://www.irs.gov/individuals/identity-theft-information-for-businesses

2. Click here to view some of the security options available for Nevada State Bank cards.

3. Click here for a NevadaSmallBusiness article on cybersecurity concerns in the work-from-home environment.

4. https://www.dnb.com/perspectives/small-business/prevent-business-fraud-during-covid19.html