Our CFO, Virgil Prather, attended a seminar recently, and came back with this report:
With numerous laws enacted requiring business to implement new policies and procedures, one can become complacent concerning the severity and impact of liability issues. In a recent seminar presented by a security specialist, we heard some very alarming data.
The specialist had been a victim of identity theft and was not aware of it until she tried to renew her Physical Therapist License in Houston and discovered there were four felony cases filed against her. She is no longer able to be involved in the medical field and is still working after 17 years to clear her name.
Identity theft is such a big business that it has now surpassed drugs as the number one business of the Cartel. Every 3 seconds, someone becomes a victim of identity theft. The main businesses currently being targeted are hospitals, doctors, government municipalities, schools, and financial institutions. The property management industry is not exempt as becoming a target.
Businesses are not held responsible to eliminate identity theft, but we are held responsible to exercise due diligence. Due diligence includes, at a minimum, an implemented written policy in place, and an assigned person as administrator of the policy. The policy must identify what information is in the files, how the information is stored, how access to the information is protected, and outlines how to ensure all subs have, or work for a company with a Red Flag Policy in place and are in compliance.
Some areas you can help protect your own identity information are:
- Social Security Card – Do not carry it with you and never give your number out or produce it except when required (by an employer, etc.).
- Medical Cards – Do not carry your card with you; hospitals are required by law to provide you emergency services and you can prove insurance coverage later.
- Debit/Credit Card – Always use the credit side of your card; financial institutions do not maintain back-up for debit transactions.
- Personal Identification – When receiving a request to “verify your personal information for security reasons”, do not give out personal information; only verify what the caller should already have.
- Internet Transactions – Exercise extreme care in transacting business over the internet; always use the same credit card, and limit your credit transaction so it is always under a specified amount.
- Checks – Only sign checks with a felt-tipped pen; ink signatures can be easily removed.
- Account Information – Shred all statements; never throw anything with your name, address, etc. in the trash.
- Monitor Accounts – All account activity should be monitored daily for early detection of unauthorized transactions.
- Resolution Companies – The best answer to restoring your identity should you become a victim of identity theft is to immediately contact a resolution company; they can do it more quickly than you can.
Our awareness of and guarding against identity theft is important. Red Flag Policies are critical; don’t stop until you have one in place.
Until next time,