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Preventing Identity Theft in Your Business by Judith M. Collins

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INTRODUCTION

Identity theft can be prevented. Contrary to common thought, most identities are stolen from businesses; fewer are stolen from garbage Dumpsters or by online hackers. Although thefts do occur from these sources (as well as from homes, cars, and persons), the majority of identity thefts are committed inside the workplace by a relatively few dishonest employees who steal the personal identification data of their coworkers and customers—a company’s most valued assets. To safeguard these potential victims, and the company’s interests, the workplace must be secured.

Because identity thefts occur so often in the workplace, businesses also are victims. In his keynote speech at the 2000 White Collar Crime Summit in Los Angeles, California’s attorney general, William Lockyer, warned that identity theft was the greatest threat to the financial economy of businesses and the entire United States. Since then, and despite his warning, identity theft has escalated worldwide and continues unabated. The reason in great part is that no international security standards exist to protect personal information, such as the identities of U.S. citizens.

Nevertheless, federal laws now require all businesses to secure personal identifiers and document this or risk being fined. Nowhere, however, are businesses told how they might do this. Granted, each of several federal laws recommends database and computer security—but computers do not steal identities. Information technology (IT) cannot ...

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