Cyberattacks are becoming more of a problem each day than it was the previous day. The news of big corporations being targeted or attacked will not stop coming. In the world that we are in now, cyberattacks are already being considered a certainty with many businesses preparing for when it will happen rather than if it will happen.
There are times when the entrepreneurs and businesses do/not do things to make themselves vulnerable to these attacks. Although these businesses knew what personal identity theft is, whether they are prepared against such occurrence is another topic entirely. Small mistakes such as failure to properly dissolve an extinct company or file an annual report.
How entrepreneurs become susceptible to identity theft
Many states in the US require that Incorporate companies file their annual report. These documents are very simple documents that inform the state and keep them updated on little information regarding your business.
Failure to file in this report by a company means that the state may regard it as administratively dissolved, in other words, it will no longer be considered Incorporated in the state. This implies that they also lose some legal protections such as access to the state’s court. They may also be fined if they continue with business without proper registration.
When this happens, the business is included on the inactive companies list. This leaves the company in a very vulnerable state. Cybercriminals can use different mail addresses to get the business running again without the knowledge or consent of the company’s owner. They then receive the business’ good standing which they use to order resellable merchandise or get credits.
To make things worse, if the company is already considered administratively dissolved, the owner no longer has the corporate form’s personal liability protection. So whatever debts the criminals incur will hit them straight in the pocket.
It is risky when businesses just close the door on a state without formally shutting down or winding down. A company like this is creating chances for cybercriminals to take advantage of, steal their identity, run them into further debt, and cause other havoc to the company.
How to be invulnerable to identity theft
File the report early enough: This is key to continued operation within a state. So filing the annual report early enough is the first step to avoiding corporate identity theft. So there are loopholes for the fraudsters. When the business owners are very busy, they might find it easy to forget the annual report, especially since it has to be filed around the time of the company’s formation and not tax deadlines or fiscal year. There will be more logistics to deal with when the business needs to file their annual reports in multiple states. In this case, a trusted agent or lawyer can provide online assignment help and inform the owners about the deadlines.
Dissolve an extinct business legally: If for any reason an entrepreneur or business owner decides that it is best to close the business venture or stop to function in a particular state, they have to do this formally and legally. Legally dissolving a business involves just submission of some documents to the state, or the IRS, if they have to. Other requirements for dissolution in a state might vary across the different state but the legal dissolution is straightforward. And if they do not end the business legally, it is still vulnerable.
Withdraw formally from states you do not operate at anymore: Withdrawing from a state is different from dissolution. In dissolution, the legal existence of that business is affected throughout the country. But with withdrawal, the company is still very operational in the country they are only withdrawing their rights to operate in that particular state but they can continue to do business in other places within the country. So, if you are no longer interested in doing business within a particular state, then you should withdraw formally from that state. This way you will be tying up loose ends which could have been potential spots for the cybercriminals to attack.
Run periodic checks on business credit: Very much like when people run checks on their personal credit. Doing this with your company also makes you certain that you are still safe and keeps your mind at peace. Be sure that there are no debts running in your company’s name. Check with credit reporting agencies.
Keep documents with company information secure: There are definitely a number of such documents with the business identifiers or information. You should not only keep these documents in a secure and safe environment, but you must also ensure that access to them is limited to authorized personnel only. It is not a lack of trust in your employees, it is just keeping your business safe. Sensitive information such as account numbers and other business identifiers in hardcopy documents should be treated like a treasure at all times. You do not want to leave these documents flying around in public access areas, employee workspace, filing cabinets, etc. You must also pay attention to and be sure of everyone that has access or are able to see these documents including your customers and clients, contractors, visitors, etc. The more this information is out there with random people, the bigger the risk for your business.
Shred old document with company details: it is without a doubt that your company will have some old documents that are no longer necessary in any way but contains private information and identifiers for your business such as business registration, business license numbers, account numbers EIN/TIN, etc. Of course, you can’t leave them flying around and you can’t be careless in disposing or destroying them as well. You can shred these documents with a diamond cut, confetti cut, or cross-cut shredder. Another option is to employ the services of a security company that is into document destruction. If you these documents in a place before shredding, be sure that it is in a locked or secured storage room that can only be accessed by authorized individuals.
Make sure business computers are used for business purposes alone: You can become very vulnerable to hackers and cyberattacks by carrying out other activities like surfing the internet, downloading programs, online gaming, accessing social media, and file sharing with business computers. It leaves the computer open to malware, spyware, viruses, and other security problems that might jeopardize your business and grant hackers access to confidential information about your business, employees, and customers.
Being compliant with many of the regulations that are given to work with goes a long way to foil cyberattacks and identity theft by cybercriminals. You do not want to give the opportunist criminals a chance to prey on your business. The best way to stay vigilant and avoid being vulnerable is by being compliant. While being compliant with government regulations, you have to check internally within your business so that you are not exposed by carelessness from within.