Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft is a serious problem, even for those who work from home. When you work from home, it's likely that your office contains information about your personal and business financial records as well as personally identifiable data for your clients. Identity thieves earn their livings stealing information that allows them to perpetuate fraud from trash cans, computer systems, and other locations. As a home business owner, it's important that you take steps to keep your confidential information and that of your clients safe.
4 Home Office Identity Security Tips
1. Shred Paperwork
Don't throw away paperwork that has information about you or your customers that could be used by identity thieves. Instead, invest in a paper shredder for your home office and make it a standard practice to use it on all paperwork that contains personally identifiable data. This includes information such as names, social security numbers, dates of birth, medical information, banking or credit card information, and other details that shouldn't fall into the wrong hands. Once the paperwork has been shredded, it can be recycled.
2. Password Protection
Be sure that the computer you use in your home office requires a password to login. Otherwise, if your computer is stolen in a burglary, the thieves would have easy access to all of the information saved on the hard drive. This could include confidential information about your clients as well as details about your company's finances and protected information about any employers or independent contractors who are working with you or who have worked for you in the past.
3. Consider a Post Office Box
If you are often out of your home office during the day or if you travel, you may want to consider getting a post office box rather than receiving all of your mail at home. Identity thieves have been known to steal information from residential mailboxes, so this can be an important consideration if you frequently receive mail that has information that could be used to commit identity theft fraud against you or your clients or employees.
4. Proper Disposal of Computer Equipment
If you get a new computer for your home office, don't simply throw away your old one. Even if you deleted data from a hard drive, a smart hacker can restore the information and use the data to commit identity thief or perpetuate other fraudulent activities. Once you've transferred your files from the hard drive on your old machine, the device should be shredded to ensure that the stored information doesn't end up in the hands of criminals.
- FTC Identity Theft Site: www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
- US Department of Justice – Identity Theft and Identity Fraud: www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html
Image Credit: sxc.hu (Arminh)