In our database-driven world, identity theft has become a very serious problem for marketing professionals. Every day, many are exposed to criminals who prey on others by stealing their identity. It’s a sad truth, and a reality that must be faced if you want to protect yourself and your business.
Even though individual consumers are considered to be the primary victims of identity theft, merchants can be affected as well. Merchants can suffer from charge-backs after theft has been proved and as a result, many small businesses can be charged a penalty by credit card issuers.
Marketers, more than any other profession, have to fight this uphill battle much more often than an individual consumer since they perform many more transactions each day. However, there are ways that marketers can protect themselves from identity theft. Consider some of the following:
Many of the websites and companies that are victimized by identity thieves don’t have the correct mechanisms in place to prevent the attack. Simply adding an authentication system to the website can help prevent many of the system flaws identity thieves looks for as a vulnerability.
Verifying a customer’s true identity is a great way to ensure that you are actively protecting against identity theft. Of course, the level of authentication is going to be different depending on the company. If you are ordering a $10 book, then a customer isn’t going to want to enter their social security number, mother’s maiden name, etc.
However, when it comes to banking or any other website that pertains vital financial information, more steps need to be taken. Always analyze how much data your website contains for each customer and you can come up with a perfect level of authentication needed for each type of transaction. Generally the software used on the back end of transaction platforms can be adjusted or toggled to fit your business’ need.
Never skimp on the level of security that your website has. Almost every customer has a filter on their web browsers that will notify them of how secure a website is. If a website comes up as totally secure (often as a green link), then customers are more likely to visit (and purchase from) that site.
If the site comes up with a yellow or red level of security on a site, however, that is going to deter many people and potential customers. How confident would you be entering your own information if a site was reported as harmful? Would you even want to click on that site for fear of losing your e-mail and password or credit card information? Always think about that before deciding the level of security that your site has.
Always be trustworthy:
It is important to be truthful to your customers and let them know exactly what is happening with their data. If it is for authentication purposes only to ensure that they are having their identity protected, it’s more likely that their information will be shared with you. If you let them know that their data is being stored on the website or sold to other businesses, though, you are likely to lose that customer or only receive a one-time purchase from them.
Using the right data:
To get the best results in protecting identity, always use data from a credit-reporting agency for the most up to date information. This way, a customer’s most current authentication data will be available so you know you have the right person. All three major credit bureaus offer authentication, so contacting them to use this service is generally a wise way to go.
Keeping in constant contact with the security and authentication supplier pertaining to the service that you are receiving is very important. It will let you know if their system is truly meeting your needs and if not, how to utilize it to its full potential. You can also keep up to date on the latest upgrades that will enhance security and keep your customers safe.
After ensuring that you have all the proper procedures in place, you are more likely to have your services used. If a customer has had their identity stolen from one place, they will quickly be looking for another place to go. If you are able to prevent it from happening, then more people will trust you and your site, and your sales will increase steadily—and securely.
~ John Gower is an analyst for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping you save money with tips on everything from identity theft to scoring a good high yield cd.