October 5, 2015

Share Everywhere

How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft At The Office

When thinking about how to protect yourself from identity theft, you’re likely cautious around ATM machines, on social media, while doing online shopping and when checking your financial accounts. But what about at your desk?

As we covered in a previous post, “familiar fraud” happens when someone you know is the identity thief. These incidents may involve friends and family members, or even someone in the cubicle right next to you.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 30 to 50 percent of identity theft originates at work. Not only are you vulnerable to in-office issues, but data breaches and spear phishing can present risks as well.

Even if you’re best buddies with all your colleagues, keep in mind that other people may also use your offices, including freelancers, consultants, interns, potential hires, repair personnel and housekeeping employees. In terms of computer and data system access, the list could encompass clients, advisors, remote IT support, salespeople and contractors.

October is National Cyber Security Month. Each week has a different theme, and this week’s theme is “Creating a Culture of Cyber Security at Work.” Here are some tips to keeping your identity safe while at the office.

  • Lock up your personal information. Make sure your purse, bag, wallet and smartphone are secured at all times, even if you’re just running to the kitchen for another caffeine boost. A thief could take your identification in that moment, and you may not realize it until the end of the day. Even worse, the thief could copy the information and then replace your belongings, which you wouldn’t realize until an identity theft incident occurred.
  • Be aware of insecure filing systems. Especially in smaller companies, long-term file storage might be in a little-traveled hallway or a room in the basement. That may be fine for non-sensitive documents, but if there are HR files with your information, it’s a problem. Filing cabinet locks are rarely heavy-duty, so talk to your HR department about a more secure filing solution or at least about locating employee records in a safer spot.
  • Surf and email cautiously. While it’s tempting to get caught up on your banking or paying your bills during your lunch hour, resist the urge. Most companies have security plans in place, but data breaches happen all the time. And when a company is targeted, a thief will capture as much from the system as possible, including emails, Web transactions and personal data stored on hard drives. Play it safe and separate the personal from the professional.
  • Be alert. Spear phishing attempts, which can target an entire company, are becoming increasingly common, especially as employees try to process emails as quickly as possible. These messages can look like they come from a legitimate company but contain malware embedded in attachments and links. Your company may have email security in place, but don’t assume those filters catch everything.

How does identity theft happen? In countless ways, courtesy of a variety of potential thieves. But putting the right protections in place and staying aware of the risks can be helpful in protecting your identity — at work and everywhere else.

Join The Discussion

Your email address will never be published.