As a business owner, you should consider your Employer Identification Number (EIN) as the Social Security number used to identify your business entity. This means you need to protect it as such, in order to ensure your confidential and sensitive information (such as financial records). Don’t become the tools a thief needs to fraudulently represent your company. The Amper Review, an accounting newsletter, recently published an article identifying the two major ways thieves retrieve your information and your best ways to combat them, so you can safely focus on how to run a successful business.
The first way thieves gain access to your information is the old tried-and-true method: digging through your trash. Digging has withstood the test of time and will continue as long as companies carelessly discard old checks and confidential information. There are ways to eliminate the dangers of digging. Always make sure to shred any and all credit offers, papers revealing employee information, and especially documents that include your EIN.
You may want to consider keeping up with the Joneses and utilize electronic payment options. Password protection and encrypted messages make wire transfers and Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments much safer than traditional paper checks. Another way to keep business documents in the hands of appropriate personnel is to consider a post office box or a lockbox for your mail.
The second way thieves attempt to compromise your business is by going “phishing.” They assume fraudulent positions and pretend to represent a company (big banks, eBay, or any familiar organization). They send phishing emails to you and/or your employees asking for personal or network information, such as usernames and passwords. The simplest defense against phishing is also the most effective: ignore unsolicited emails. Never click links found in these emails and most importantly, never reply giving the information. If you feel the inquiries may be legitimate, protect yourself by calling the company directly.
Following these easy steps will give you a strong foundation on which you can protect the identity and dignity of your business and further ensure the safety of yourself and your employees. WF
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2009