The free WiFi hotspot ritual is habitual. You head to your favorite café to get some work done “away from the office”. Justifying your $4 cup of 50 cent coffee with a Starbucks-approved rationalization (“I work so much more efficiently at my 3rd spot!”), you flip open your laptop, link to the free WiFi and get down to business. The caffeine primes your creativity, the bustling noise provides a canvass backdrop for your artful work and the hyper-convenient Internet access makes it easy for someone else (think organized criminal) to intercept everything you send through the air.
Latest "Identity Theft Prevention" Posts
Though businesses of all kinds have reasons to be concerned about their susceptibility to identity theft and fraud, contractors working for the government should be fine, right? Well, not when glitches lurk.
There are enough threats to private information floating out there without us accidentally opening the floodgates. If proper security is kept up at all times, it creates a higher standard that can allow for less laziness and more protection. Unfortunately, even the government can’t keep the possibility of dangerous security gaps at zero. Contractors working for the feds may have learned this the hard way last month, when a flaw in software used by the General Services Administration left valuable information vulnerable to identity theft and fraud, potentially including Social Security and bank account numbers.
With all the news about fraud hitting big name companies, you might think that identity theft training is only for the corporate giants. Think again.
A study recently performed by a subcommittee in the U.S. House has revealed an alarming statistic: small businesses are a target for digital criminals just as celebrity brands like Twitter and Facebook attract fraudulent attention. But unlike those huge companies, smaller names usually have less to spend on security and are therefore more vulnerable to those kinds of attacks. According to a report mentioned in a statement by the subcommittee’s chairman Chris Collins, 60 percent of small businesses hit by online attacks end up closing within six months.
Here are some more rather frightening tidbits, courtesy of the same source: 87 percent of smaller businesses don’t even have an official written security policy. And attacks on companies with fewer than 250 employees apparently make up 20 percent of the total number of instances of online infringement. It’s not just the total gross that draws the attention of data thugs, and just because you’re not raking in billions doesn’t mean you’ll go unnoticed.
Check washing is so simple, you must learn to prevent check fraud
Are check fraud and check washing still relevant in the age of digital payments? If you’re like the average person, chances are you don’t write too many checks anymore. With the convenience of online payment options, nearly universal acceptance of credit and debit cards, and the proliferation of ATMs offering you easy access to money at every turn, why resort to the archaic, labor-intensive method of writing a check?
The simple answer—sometimes we have no other choice! Some places still don’t accept credit cards (Costco if you don’t have an American Express), or they charge an extra fee for them. Some retailers don’t offer online payment options. And frankly, sometimes it’s just an old habit and we haven’t made the effort to find a safer option because we’re stuck in the mindset of “it’s never happened to me” when thinking about check fraud.
How to Stop Check Fraud and Check Washing
Check washing, a highly common form of check fraud, is the practice of removing legitimate check information, especially the “Pay To” name and the amount, and replacing it with data beneficial to the criminal (his own name or a larger amount) through chemical or electronic means. One of the many ways to protect yourself against check fraud is so important that it deserves its very own article.
A foolproof way to protect your checks from being altered, whether by washing or by electronic means, is to use security checks offered by most companies.
I personally use and endorse Deluxe High Security Checks.
Here are some of the features of Deluxe High Security Checks that safeguard you not only against check washing, but other high tech forms of check fraud as well:
- Safety security paper (visible and invisible fluorescent fibers, chemical-sensitive)