Identity theft is a preventable crime, if we all work together.
A couple of months ago I read a blog post about a large AT&T phone bill that some fraudsters ran up on a poor unsuspecting real estate company. The point of the story was as a business owner you cannot ever assume that anyone will protect you and your information. The law states that "Legally", the fraud victim is still responsible to pay for all charges that are on their bill. In this instance the real estate company was luckily AT&T wrote off the charges as a sign of good faith because the fraud was not in character with the real estate’s typical telephony usage.
Identity Security is the responsibility of each and every one of us. Every company in the world should be protecting everyone’s identity information PERIOD. Even if they’re not a customer. The financial damage that identity Theft cause hurt the corporations like AT&T and Verizon and they hurt the SMBs alike (Let's be honest these types of losses to the SMBs are more likely to force an SMB to go out of business and that is bad for the economy). Perhaps the most damaging effect is the tough-to-get-out brand staining, I can't believe that this is happening to me, I have been doing business with this company for years responses caused by end users for sticking your loyal law-abiding customers with a surprise monstrous bill created by the activities of identity thief. Your Competitors love to hear about stories like this. They share it with future customers who are shopping around for products and or services who might be considering on calling on your business next. As a business you will have a hard time getting over a story like that. It's scary but true. These are the kind of story that makes customers and potential customers turn off the lights, lock the door, and breathe as quietly as possible when you come calling for upgrades or add on sales or even reaching out to just see how things are going.
Folks. The bottom line is Identity theft is a preventable crime, if we all work together.
If you ignore the security of your customers and or customers that are not as yet your customers is a terrible business strategy. For starters there is no way to truly justify that as a practice. Suspicious activity, like usage patterns that do not conform with the norms of your customers and unmatched signup information, is easy to catch. Blocking fraudulent signups and usage saves your company, your brand, and your bottom line. When customers are hit by the fraudulent activity of an identity thief you’re in the tough spot of being the heartless bill collector, or taking the damage out of next year’s marketing budget or worse. Bankruptcy.
Being aware of customer typical usage behaviors can help spot and shut down fraudulent activity on existing accounts before it gets too crazy. For new signups, the identity information thieves use to build is often incomplete or mismatched and clever filters can easily trigger a request for more detailed proof of identity. Something that a legitimate user should be happy is in place. It’s proof to them and to others that your business cares about keeping them safe. Oh! In case I forgot to mention it’s in your best interest too.
When it comes right down to identity theft, most companies don’t action against the threat. Most companies are too hungry for business to think about the customer complaints that comes after these fraudulent sales. But the only way to irradiate the problem, and protect us all (Enterprise and SMB's alike), is to look out for each other. Work together to make it harder for the thieves and instill security checks for all new and existing customers. Educate your customers on how real the threat is and on the steps that you and your company are taking to insure that their data and yours is safe. By business working together to ensure that this happens previous weakness and exploits that identity thieves used will no longer be available and that means better and more secure business for us all.