Identity theft and credit card fraud cost Canadians more than $1 million a day according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
That staggering statistic doesn’t mean you have to sit around and wait to be targeted. By taking identity fraud seriously and following the RCMP’s recommended strategies for protecting your personal information, you reduce your chances of becoming a victim of this costly crime.
UNDERSTANDING IDENTITY FRAUD
Identity fraud occurs when someone obtains another individual’s personal data or financial information and uses it fraudulently to obtain goods or services. This once-obscure crime is now a widespread problem for Canadians.
7 STRATEGIES TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IDENTITY THEFT
1. Always keep your credit card in sight. If your waiter or salesperson needs to walk away to run your card, go with them to make sure you are not a victim of credit card skimming. This common practice of identity thieves lifts information from the magnetic strip on the back of your credit card to use later to make purchases at your expense.
2. Never trust emails that ask for your personal or financial information – no matter how official they appear. Phishing is a frequent tactic used by identity thieves. They pretend to be your bank and prompt you to click a link to a fraudulent website and enter your information in a bogus online form. Phishing scams typically use a logo, design and URL that look close to your bank’s branding, but once you enter your information it goes directly to the thieves.
3. Protect your computer from malware. Hackers are constantly creating malicious software to infiltrate your computer and intercept passwords or credit card information you enter while online. Protect your computer by installing the latest anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-adware programs and firewalls. Without this protection, you can unknowingly infect your computer with a virus by opening the wrong email, accessing the wrong website or downloading an infected game. Also, make it a practice to only purchase from trusted online retailers who have a secure “https” site instead of an “http”.
4. Shred trash and junk mail with personal information printed on it. Identity thieves are not above going through your garbage to get access to personal information, including that of your friends and family. An identity thief could use a discarded phone book to steal the name, address and birthday information for those close to you.
5. Streamline your wallet. Only carry items you plan to use. Keep your passport, birth certificate, social insurance card and other credit cards safely stored when you are not using them.
6. Protect your PIN. Do not share your PIN with anyone and take care to shield the keypad whenever you enter it in public. Identity thieves use clever tactics to steal PINs including spy cameras.
7. Monitor your credit regularly. At least once every six months, check your credit through Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada to make sure there is no suspicious activity. Also, carefully review your bank and credit card statements and report suspicious charges immediately.
For additional steps you can take to protect your identity, check out the RCMP’s Scams and Fraud guide.
Let’s be honest: Even if you have a good understanding of what insurance does for you or for your business, deep inside, we all believe that peace of mind should be free, and that we shouldn’t have to pay a “premium” to enjoy it.
In reality, though, we all know that our modern society would not be able to function without the safety net provided by insurance.
As you attempt to achieve your company’s goals you will naturally take a number of risks that may bring about accidental losses (to your property, your income, through liability to others, etc.).
While some losses you may be able to absorb (pay for) yourself, in many cases you will want to ‘transfer the risk’ and costs associated with those loses to someone else: an insurance company.
Click here to see some some scenarios where you would be happy that the risk was transferred to an insurance company, and that the loss did not directly impact your company’s ability to survive and grow.
By the way, risk management is not merely about insurance.
Insurance is simply one of many ‘risk management techniques’ you’ll need to implement in order to achieve your growth and profitability goals.
Still, a day doesn’t go by without someone telling me that they really don’t enjoy – OK, they hate – paying for something they can’t see or touch, and hope they never have to use.
So, what could possibly be worse than paying for insurance?
Paying for it month after month, year after year … believing that “you’re covered”, only to find out – when the unexpected happens – that you are NOT.
How do you prevent that from happening to you?
Here’s the most important message I want to share with you in this article: Traditional ‘business insurance’ and traditional “Commercial General Liability” (CGL) policies are not sufficient to protect technology businesses against what I call “The Monsters” (risks).
In fact, as an IT consultant, software developer, game developer, web designer, owner/executive in charge of a data centre or other type of tech business you face risks that are usually excludedfrom coverage in regular business insurance policies.
Regardless of how mysterious, complex, or boring you find insurance, you must make sure that your policy provides coverage for the types of risks your technology business is exposed to.
Some of the coverages that you may need include:
Technology-Specific Errors & Omissions
Copyright or Trademark Infringement Liability Protection
Property – Including, as needed, EDP Property and R & D Property
Network and Information Security Liability
Reputation Injury and Communication Liability
Commercial General Liability
Equipment breakdown coverage
Media Liability Protection
Also, ask your broker to show you that the policy definitions of “business activities” actually match what your business does, and if not, ask if the policy allows for inclusion of your own definitions.
It’s true that properly insuring an IT business can be tricky. Our industry has product managers at insurance companies struggling to figure out ways of covering you from “social-media risks” and other Monsters that didn’t exist a few years ago.
The good news is leading insurance companies are finally paying attention. They’ve developed quality insurance products designed specifically to protect tech companies.
By the way, I know that some smaller tech firms try to get by without proper “risk transfer” (insurance) plans.
If you know anyone operating without an insurance safety net, please remind them that one of the truly sad realities of today’s business world is that you can be sued … even when you didn’t do anything wrong … and even after your software or service performed as expected.
Sure, you might win the lawsuit … after trading a big chunk of your hard-earned money for legal defense fees.
In fact, legal costs generally represent a large portion of the overall Professional Liability claims cost. That’s due to the need for expert (read: more expensive) witnesses and lawyers.
Bottom line – given the complexities of a technical business it makes sense to seek out well-designed, technology-specific insurance coverage from insurance companies – and brokers – who specialize in technology. That is the first step in eliminating any looming doubts about whether or not you are covered.
You’ll be happy to know that we work with several insurance companies who offer specialized insurance policies and coverages for the IT industry.
Because not all insurance companies (or their IT products) are the same, we’ve done the homework for you and have sourced out leading insurers that cater to various sub-segments of the the IT industry … from one-person firms to large multi-national companies.
Here’s are the types of IT businesses we work with – Is yours listed?
Software and game developers
Data Storage/Retrieval Services
Web hosting and design facilities
Access providers and co-location facilities
Systems integrators, value-added resellers, and consultants