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  Special Feature

Protecting Your Business, Keeping Your Customers Safe

Posted 8/12/2010

Tips to protect your business against
identity theft and invasion of its data.

Good communication is more than just words.  It's tone of voice, eye contact, nonverbal gestures and more.Here are 10 tips for ensuring that your business and customer data remains safe and private:

Implement a document management program. Identify the types of documents considered confidential and train co-workers on responsible information-handling practices. Restrict co-worker access to these documents and discourage printing of confidential data unless essential.

Implement a document-retention schedule. Identify the amount of time to retain specific documents. Store these documents in a secure location until the retention period expires.

Regularly shred sensitive documents. To protect sensitive information, consider a shredding service that comes to your business and destroys information on a scheduled basis.

Keep documents securely offsite. In addition to outside hackers, valuable employee or customer data may also be at risk. To prevent unauthorized co-workers from accessing data, keep nonessential documents offsite, further limiting potential access.

Limit acquisition of confidential customer data. Review the type of customer data that your business collects. Unless it is integral to the business transaction, avoid collection of information such as customers' social security numbers, bank accounts or driver's license numbers.

Avoiding Credit Card
Identity Theft

The theft of credit card data is at all-time high. As such, many credit card acquirers and processors are requiring merchants to become payment card industry (PCI)-compliant to avoid breaches as soon as possible, rather than waiting on the deadline.

As a merchant, how do you protect your customer's credit card account information?

    First, secure the card acceptance and processing environment such as: ensure the full credit card number is truncated on receipts and on nightly settlement reports.

    Next, ensure your merchant copies of receipts and settlement reports are secure in a locked environment.

    Make sure proper care is used when handling the customer's credit card, ensuring that the card never leaves the sight of the employee assisting the customer. (It is highly recommended to never let the card leave the customer's sight; however, this is not part of the mandated regulations.)

    Use compliant equipment and software (if applicable).

To learn more about processing credit card transactions with NPC, an ASA member-benefit provider, or the NPC Platinum Security Protection Program, please contact Troy Haste, ASA relationship manager for NPC, by e-mail at asa@npc.net.

Use password protection. Password-protect files that contain sensitive data including payroll, customer and financial information. Make sure your co-workers change passwords on a quarterly basis at minimum with a combination of six to eight numbers and letters in upper and lowercase.

Install and update virus protection software. Virus protection software is the first step in preventing a worm or virus from distributing files or other stored information from a computer over the network.

Clear data before disposing of old computers. Even when a computer is no longer used, sensitive data is still available on the hard drive. Potential hackers or data thieves could prey on such data.

Review company credit card statements. Company credit card data can be compromised just as easily as consumer data (see sidebar on page 27). Before paying bills, make sure each employee has reviewed each item to prevent unauthorized charges. If unauthorized charges occur, be sure to notify your credit card company and all three credit bureaus to protect your credit.

Limit the use of file-sharing programs. While an effective way to collaborate and share documents, file-sharing programs can also expose a computer to hackers. If they must be used, make sure the system is protected by strong firewall and virus protection software that is regularly updated.

For more information on ways to protect company data with a document management program, go to www.cintas.com/document management. Cintas is an ASA member-benefit provider.

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