A Real Case of Identity Theft

In this blog we have been offering opinion on the issues associated with identity theft and advice to business and individuals on appropriate mitigating actions. Despite our heightened awareness of the issues there was still a feeling that identity theft happens to someone else. That all changed on 9th June when someone rang the office of ACCO Brands’ Chairman and CEO in the USA claiming to be ACCO’s European Senior Vice President of Marketing and requesting personal contact details of a former senior employee of the company. Fortunately the chairman’s secretary, who has met the individual in question, was sufficiently suspicious and requested the support of a European PA to validate the identity of the caller. This action quickly established the call as a crude attempt to impersonate a member of the ACCO Brands team and a potentially damaging situation was averted.

In a recent article, written for the magazine European CEO entitled “How Safe is Your Business”, we outlined 6 actions designed to reduce the risk of falling prey to identity theft and corporate fraud. They are –

Always verify the identity of customers, suppliers, business partners and employees
Review online security arrangements; a firewall and wireless encryption are simple steps. More complex businesses dealing in eCommerce will need to consider secure payment systems and compliance with local legislation around the handling and storage of customer details.
Review all your information, not just paper-based. Think about all the data held by various departments whether in files, on PCs, etc.
Classify the data, e.g. general, sensitive and confidential.
Define how each classification should be stored, accessed and destroyed.
Never allow company information (even seemingly innocuous things like company letterheads) to be thrown in the bin.
The first action can seem trivial but as our recent experience demonstrates one can never be too careful! Identity theft is a serious and growing issue and the consequences can be very damaging. Take action now to reduce your risk of falling prey to the fraudsters!