Small to Mid-Sized Businesses Wake Up! The National Association of Secretaries of State Warns Identity Theft Does Not Just Hurt Individuals

Acknowledging the need "to help states combat the growing threat of business identity theft," the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) announced on April 18, 2011, the formation of a "Business Identity Theft Task Force." The focus of this task force is to assist states (not necessarily private business) withcombating business identity theft in areas such as "the types of technology used by states in housing business documents, solutions for securing state business filing information and records, and key partnerships/liaisons for conducting outreach."

However, this action by the NASS highlights a growing problem for small and medium sized businesses:

"With the downturn in the economy, the newest victims of identity theft are small and medium-sized businesses, including dormant or inactive companies," said NASS President Mark Ritchie of Minnesota, who serves on the task force. "As the state officials who oversee business registrations and corporate filings, secretaries of state have come together to educate business owners on how they can reduce their chances of falling prey to identity thieves and to explore safeguards for state filing systems."

Identity thieves are not just attacking state filing systems, so businesses need to take steps of theirownto safeguard not only personal information of customers, employees and others, but also thebusinesses’ corporate and financial data. Many of the same principles that apply in thesafeguarding of personal information also would apply to safeguarding the information of the business. Two critical steps in this process are conducting a risk assessment and developing a written information security program.