Protecting Your Identity and Reputation

Surprised woman looking at mobile device


Falling victim to fraud does not always equate to financial loss. It can also involve identify theft or reputational damage caused by online activity that is beyond your control, undermining your credibility. In today’s digital age, it is more important than ever to take proactive steps to protect yourself and your business from potential risks.

Gaining Access to Your Information

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission. The consequences can be devastating, as bad actors can wreak havoc on your life for years to come. They can misuse your credit card information and bank account details, making unauthorized purchases and setting up fraudulent business accounts. They can even go as far as impersonating you if they get into trouble with the law, obtaining passports, receiving government benefits, and applying for loans in your name. Your personal residential address, mother's maiden name, online usernames and passwords, and driver's license number are all valuable pieces of information that can be exploited.

Unfortunately, gaining access to this information is not very difficult. If you’ve been identified as a target, it could be as simple as someone snooping through your trash at night to find discarded information. Most of the time though, a quick look at your social media accounts or internet search of your name can reveal a lot. 

In order to remain diligent, be sure you never disclose your personal information over the phone, via text message, email, or the internet. 

Safeguarding Your Identity

Consider the following ways you can minimize the risk of falling victim to identity theft:
  • Avoid using public computers or Wi-Fi hotspots to access or provide personal information or to log into internet banking. Instead, use your phone as a personal hotspot.
  • Create strong and unique passwords for all of your online accounts, even at home.
  • Utilize two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Always accept updates to your computer’s operating system. They often include fixes to common bugs and improvements to antivirus software.
  • Look for URLs starting with “https” and a closed padlock symbol when making online purchases. These indicate that the site is using a secure connection.
  • Make use of privacy filters and audience settings to help limit the amount of personal information you share on social media. 
  • Be wary of individuals who contact you using urgency and fear. Fraudulent messages, texts, and emails often contain misspelled words, incorrect grammar, requests for personal information, computer virus notifications, tax debt, prize winnings, or unbelievable free offers. Trust your instincts—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Mitigating Reputational Risk

Reputational risk can pose a significant threat to your business’s brand, often stemming from events that create negative public perception or bad publicity. It is essential to take proactive steps to protect your business's reputation and address potential risks swiftly.

Examples of reputational risk include:

  • Receiving low ratings or negative comments from customers on social media platforms or third-party review sites, which may be untrue or miscommunicated. 
  • Launching a new product without completing proper quality testing, resulting in a reputation for being unreliable. Even if you decided to relaunch the product with improved quality, the brand’s image would remain tarnished.
  • External events beyond your control, such as a hacker gaining access to customer information, or an employee mishandling a customer complaint that goes viral.

To decrease the risks to your brand, consider the following strategies:

  1. Protect yourself against data breaches by backing up your data, securing your devices and network, and encrypting sensitive information. 
  2. Prioritize customer service training for all employees to ensure they handle complaints professionally and effectively.
  3. Implement thorough background checks and pre-employment screenings during the hiring process. 
  4. Establish core values that your employees can embrace, such as diversity, accountability, innovation, passion, integrity, and respect.
  5. Develop a crisis communication plan that is specific to your business, outlining potential risks and planned responses to address them swiftly.

By taking these proactive measures, you can safeguard your identity and protect your business's reputation from potential risks. 

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