The new threat of identity theft and how you can protect your customers

The new threat of identity theft and how you can protect your customers

By Ben Stringer

Identity theft is on the rise in Australia and around the world. According to the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), identity crime is "a key enabler of serious and organised crime, which in turn is estimated to cost Australia $15 billion annually." Recent surveying performed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown that identify theft affects up to 0.5% of Australians over the age of 15, and 1 in 4 of those have suffered financial loss through identity theft.

Your customers will look to you to protect them from this increasing threat. The reputation of your business and your brand depends on how well you can rise to this challenge. Without a strong and comprehensive policy towards the protection of your customer's identity and privacy data, you risk becoming the next front page news . If the identity data that you hold for your customer is stolen, they will blame you, regardless of where the fault may lie.

So what steps can you take to protect your customers?

  1. Adopting the National Identity Security Strategy and implementing the policy guidelines that it recommends is a sound start. This strategy provides practical approaches for key areas of identity security, such as registration and enrollment standards, data accuracy and handling procedures and the interoperability of systems that hold identity data.
  2. Be aware of the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that you hold regarding your customers, and have policies ensuring the appropriate handling of this information.
  3. Reviewing and refreshing your internal privacy handling procedures, and ensuring your IT systems security is regularly checked and verified by an external agency can limit the leakage of private data.
  4. Having agreements and privacy policies in place for the organisations that you partner with, and the suppliers who require access to your customer's details is critical to protecting your customer's identity.
  5. And when something does go wrong, be ready with an identity verification and recovery policy to limit the damage that occurs if you have allowed their details to be stolen.

Avoiding identity theft entirely is a challenge to all modern organisations, but by following these steps, you are well down the path to protecting your customers.

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Ben Stringer is the Principal Consultant at Syntegrity Solutions, a consultancy specialising in Integration, APIs and Identity Management. He has over 25 years of experience in the IT industry, and enjoys working with customers from many different industries on their integration and API projects.

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