When you’re self-employed, your good reputation and business credit history are among your most valuable assets. From loss of funds stolen from financial accounts to damage to your personal credit rating, loss of customer or partner confidence, and even lost business, the risks of identity theft are high.
Common cases of identity theft include the misuse of your business credentials, falsification of business filings, or using your business identity to defraud consumers, vendors, banks or even the government. If you’re self-employed, it’s important to take steps to protect against business identity theft. Here are eight identity protection tips you can start today:
- Protect your tax ID number as carefully as you do your Social Security number. The number of organizations that truly need it is limited. Never imprint your tax number on business checks or other documents.
- Secure business PCs, mobile devices and networks with firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software, and password protection. Most self-employed people will store a great deal of personal and proprietary business information on just one or two devices.
- Use a secure mail box, such as a PO Box or locked postal box, to ensure mail fraud doesn’t occur. Business mail boxes are especially vulnerable to theft since they can contain invoices, paychecks and other confidential items.
- Learn what the shed and what to keep. Tax records, insurance documents and business related invoices are all documents working keeping.
- Don’t forget to secure paperwork! Business documents can contain a trove of information for identity thieves. Never leave them unsecured. Use locking file cabinets to store sensitive documents.
- Be cautious when completing business forms online or making transactions over the Internet. Be sure the site you’re dealing with is legitimate and ask vendors how they will keep your information secure online.
- Keep business and personal finances as separate as possible, and never allow someone else to use your business debit or credit cards.
- Monitor your credit – both business and personal. If fraud occurs, your business credit report and accounts may be where evidence appears first.
This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.
Published by permission from ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company. © 2014 ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. All rights reserved.