By John Sileo, [cc id=’csid’] consumer security expert

Step one of my 7 Steps to Secure Profitable Business Data is to “Start with the humans.” It is crucial to the success of your business’ security efforts that you give your employees the tools to protect themselves personally from identity theft. This develops a privacy language and framework that can be easily adapted to business security.

Pass on the following tips to your employees—seven easy measures to help prevent personal identity theft:

1. Monitor Your Accounts Online

One of the quickest ways to detect identity theft is to monitor your credit card, bank and brokerage accounts online. By doing so, you speed up the detection time and shut down fraud before it becomes a major problem. You can do this either by logging on to the website for the financial provider in question (e.g., your bank), or by setting up automatic account alerts that warn you by email or text message anytime a transaction occurs on your account.

For example, if you have credit card account alerts set up to notify you by email, and you receive an alert that $1 has been spent at a gas station when you haven’t been to a gas station that day, you know that your card has been compromised. Thus, you can shut it down immediately before you become liable for the fraud. Alerts are a painless, immediate way to keep tabs on your financial health.

2. Use Surveillance to Monitor Your Identity

Only about 25% of identity theft can be caught by monitoring credit reports, but there are more sophisticated identity theft monitoring and protection services in the marketplace. I have used [cc id=’csid’] for the past five years because of the quality and volume of monitoring they provide, the convenience of their service and the safety of their data centers.

The product automatically monitors all of the potential sources of identity theft so I don’t have to do it myself. I receive a monthly email letting me know if there are any areas that I should be concerned about. That way, I only have to think about it when necessary. Again, convenience is crucial—If we make it easy to be safe, we will be safe!

You should expect to spend approximately $150 per year for a good service. Keep in mind this is likely less than you spend to insure your car and home, which are worth far less than your identity.

3. Opt Out of Financial Junk Mail

There are complete industries built around collecting, massaging and selling your identity data and habits. Companies buy bits of your privacy so that they can knowledgeably market products to you that you are likely to purchase.

“Pre-Approved” credit card offers, for example, are major sources of identity theft. They give thieves an easy way to set up credit card accounts in your name without your consent. The thieves then spend money on the card, leaving you with the mess purchases that you didn’t make.

The solution is to “opt out” of receiving financial junk mail such as pre-approved credit, home loan and insurance offers. Notify organizations that collect your personal information to stop sharing it with other organizations. This minimizes the amount of your personal information bought and sold on the data market.

To easily opt out of pre-approved credit offers with the three main credit reporting bureaus, call 1-888-567-8688 or visit

Have your employees begin to conquer these initial tasks—completing the tasks will help your them understand identity security and be ready to take on the remaining four tips, coming soon.

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