Identity theft is a serious crime that impacts the lives of over 10 million people each year and the numbers are rising. Although the risk of identity theft is year-round, the holiday season can put both consumers and businesses at a heightened risk.

Did you know 1 out of every 20 people is at risk of having their identity stolen?

However, consumers are not the only ones being targeted anymore. Now business owners have a new type of threat that can induce a whirlwind of devastation to their companies.

While the cost of identity theft among consumers costs companies worldwide an estimated $221 billion a year; business identity theft is a real and growing threat across the country.

When it comes to a business, a criminal will take possession of a company’s identity and utilize it to get credit in the company’s name. Once they obtain several new credit accounts they go on a spending spree purchasing electronics, office equipment, gift cards, and other products that could be purchased and sold for cash.

The damage this can cause could immobilize a business, prevent it from acquiring any credit, and even endanger its entire operation.

As a business owner you need to be proactive and take the necessary steps to protect your business credit identity. Here are four ways to protect your business during and through the holiday season.

1) Establish a protection plan– Layout a step-by-step strategy to secure your company’s identity and put it into action. It’s also important to have an action plan in place in the event that you do end up being a victim.

2) Keep company documents safe — Keep all your business files and records in a secure and protected location. Throw away any type of unneeded information using a micro cut shredder for the greatest degree of safety. Additionally, never ever offer your business tax identification number, financials, or bank statements to any person unless you have made the initial contact.

You should also consider using prepaid business credit card for staff members as opposed to a traditional business credit card. With these cards you can establish limits, deactivate cards in real time, and also limit which merchants the cards can be used at. If a criminal steals a company card from an employee you can quickly deactivate the card at a moment’s notice.

3) Shield business details and sensitive data online– One of the ways to put your business at risk is by sending sensitive company information online. Before you submit any info online verify the website is secure and its security certificate is up to date.

Read more: 5 Ways to Protect Your Business Credit Identity During the Holidays

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