Have you seen all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday information in the news this past weekend? Many businesses rely upon sales at this time to turn a profit for the year, and some 4th quarter buying can also bring tax benefits. But whether your horsebiz is doing the buying or the selling this holiday season, it’s the right time of year to protect your assets, and those of your customers; here are some tips and resources to help you survive the holiday spending spree without getting taken for a ride.
Just this morning I got an email from ‘iTunes Store’ with an order # for gift card certificates in the Subject line. Seemed weird, but plausible for this time of year so I opened it. And found this…
Now, I’m savvy enough to see through this phishing attempt, but it shows that there are people out there just waiting to take advantage of generous hearts and gift-giving traditions at the holidays. In addition, mobile payment (m-payment) use and options are growing, yet mobile antivirus and other security controls aren’t keeping pace. How devastated would you be if someone hacked into your mobile device and all the information it contains? Or stole credit card data from you, or even worse, from one of your clients when you ran their card for processing?
So, in the interest of ‘forewarned is forearmed‘ here are some resources to help you protect yourself, your horsebiz, and your customers during this holiday season:
- This eye-opening report from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is their 2011 Breach List. What’s that? It’s a 79-page list of reported ‘security breaches’ that resulted in compromised financial data, such as hacking to gain access to social security numbers, lost or stolen company laptops, etc. The reports appear to come from all states in the U.S., and include data breaches from places such as restaurants, medical insurance organizations, credit reporting agencies, and even the National Guard; the USPS had a breach when a Missouri mail truck door opened and mail flew out, spilling outgoing statements and billings from two companies along the roadside. The 375 security breaches in 2011 have resulted in over 26 MILLION data exposures; you might find it both interesting and unsettling. I know I did.
- A recent press release from The Nilson Report, a subscription-based report on the consumer payments industry (including credit, debit, and prepaid cards), indicated that the U.S. is leading the world in credit card fraud, with 47% of fraud despite logging only 27% of card purchases. The Nilson Report indicates that part of the reason is that U.S. companies have lagged in adopting features such as computerized chip cards, AND that due to competition from other cards, issuers are reluctant to decline a purchase authorization, fearing the cardholder will use a competitor’s card.
- For some tips on fraud and crime prevention, you can’t beat the FBI. According to the IC3 website, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), funded in part by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). You can read the FBI’s blog for some tips on how to prevent becoming a victim of cyber fraud, and the IC3’s recent Holiday Shopping Tips includes information about preventing classified ad, auction sale, gift card, phishing, and social networking scams.
I know it’s easy to get caught up in both the joys and the pressures of the holiday season, but please take a few moments to think through where your weakest links are when it comes to your financial security. And pass this information along to people you know and love, so they can do the same.
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