A staggering 1.1 million U.S. residents fell victim to identity theft in 2022, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with losses exceeding $8.8 billion. 

Today, businesses increasingly rely on online interactions. Protecting businesses from identity fraud is no longer an option, it's a necessity. Fraudsters can exploit a stolen Employer Identification Number (EIN) or business bank account details to wreak havoc on a business's finances and reputation.

This article equips you with a comprehensive plan to safeguard your business from identity theft in the US. We'll go into traditional methods, explore advanced protection strategies, and provide specific guidance for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

We will also explore the growing threat of business identity theft in the US, its impact on businesses, and the role of digital identity verification services in mitigating these risks.


What is Business Identity Fraud?

Business identity fraud is not limited to the physical theft of wallets or credit cards. It encompasses a wide range of criminal activities where someone uses another person's personal information, such as Employer Identification Number (EIN), tax ID number, or business name, without their consent. Here are some of the most common ways businesses fall victim to identity theft: 

1. EIN Theft: 

Fraudsters may use their stolen EIN to open fraudulent bank accounts, obtain credit cards, or file fake tax returns.

2. Fake Invoices: 

Fraudsters may create invoices that appear to be from your company and send them to your customers or vendors, tricking them into making payments to the wrong account.

3. Domain Name Spoofing: 

Fraudsters create websites mimicking your brand to trick customers into revealing sensitive information. Regularly monitor domain registrations for variations of your company name and take action against any suspicious lookalikes.

4. Trademark Infringement: 

Someone may steal your trademark or logo and use it to sell counterfeit products or services, damaging your brand reputation.

5. Account Takeover (ATO): 

Fraudsters gain access to existing customer accounts through stolen credentials or social engineering techniques, enabling them to make unauthorized transactions or steal sensitive data.

6. New Account Fraud: 

Fraudsters use stolen person's personal information (PII) to open new accounts, like credit cards or loans, leaving the victim responsible for the debt.

7. Synthetic Identity Theft

Fraudsters create a fake identity by combining real and fictitious information to open new accounts, obtain credit, or commit other financial crimes.


What are the Possible Impacts of Identity Fraud on Businesses in the US?

The financial consequences of identity theft for businesses in the US are significant. Javelin Strategy & Research estimates that businesses in the US lost an astounding $52 billion to identity fraud in 2021. These losses stem from fraudulent transactions, account takeover activities, and the cost of investigating and resolving fraud cases.

Businesses that fall prey to these fraud schemes can face a multitude of challenges, including:

1. Financial Losses: 

Fraudulent transactions, account takeovers, and fake account creation can result in significant financial losses for businesses.

2. Damage to Reputation and Trust: 

A data breach or identity theft incident can severely damage a company's reputation and erode customer trust.

3. Legal and Regulatory Implications: 

Businesses may face legal repercussions and hefty fines for non-compliance with regulations like Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML).


Steps to Prevent Your Business from Identity Fraud in the US 

While digital identity verification services are a powerful tool, a comprehensive approach is important for optimal protection. To combat these challenges, businesses can leverage the following strategies: 

1. Secure Your EIN: 

The EIN is your business's equivalent of a social security number. Handle it with equal importance. Avoid sharing your EIN publicly and restrict access to employees who genuinely require it.

2. Implement Strong Password Policies: 

Enforce strong password creation and management practices for all employees with access to sensitive business information. Require regular password changes and avoid using easily guessable passwords or personally identifiable information.

3. Monitor Business Credit Reports: 

Another way to protect your business from identity fraud in the US is by regularly monitoring your business credit report for any suspicious activity, such as unauthorized credit inquiries or new accounts opened in your business name. You can obtain free business credit reports from major credit bureaus like Dun & Bradstreet, Youveridy, Experian, and Equifax.

4. Secure Your Business Network: 

Invest in powerful cybersecurity measures to protect your business network in the US from identity fraud. Implement firewalls, anti-virus software, and data encryption to safeguard sensitive information.

5. Train Your Employees: 

Train your employees on the latest identity theft scams and best practices for detecting suspicious activities. Encourage them to maintain strong password hygiene and be cautious when handling sensitive customer information. 

Phishing scams are a common tactic used by fraudsters, so train your employees to recognize phishing scams, and avoid suspicious emails and attachments. And also to be aware of the red flags and report any concerns about potential fraud.

6. Beware of Social Engineering Tactics: 

Cybercriminals often use social engineering tactics like phishing emails or phone calls to trick employees into revealing sensitive information. Train your employees to be cautious about unsolicited requests for personal or business information.

7. Invest in Business Identity Theft Protection Services: 

Consider partnering with a reputable business identity theft protection service. These services can provide comprehensive monitoring, alerts, and assistance in case of identity theft.

8. Be Proactive in Reporting: 

If you suspect your business has been a victim of identity theft, report it immediately to the authorities, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the major credit bureaus. Taking swift action can minimize the damage and help you recover stolen funds or assets.

9. Strong Identity Verification Processes: 

Establish clear and consistent procedures for verifying user identities throughout the customer onboarding process and any high-risk transactions. This might involve a tiered approach, with stricter verification requirements for higher-value transactions or users with limited credit history.

10. Regular Security Audits and Updates:

 Conduct regular security audits to identify vulnerabilities in your systems and implement necessary updates to patch software and firmware. Outdated software can contain security holes that fraudsters can exploit, so staying up-to-date with security patches is crucial.

11. Collaboration:

 Partner with industry peers and government agencies to stay informed about emerging threats and share best practices for combating identity theft. Sharing information and collaborating on solutions can help businesses stay ahead of the curve when it comes to new fraud tactics.

12.  Data Analytics:

 Utilize data analytics tools to monitor and analyze account activity for unusual patterns that may indicate fraudulent activity. This could involve tracking login attempts from unusual locations, sudden spikes in account activity, or attempts to access accounts from multiple devices simultaneously.

13.  Staying Updated:

 Continuously stay informed about the latest identity theft trends and adopt new technologies and tools as they become available. The landscape of identity theft is constantly developing, so businesses need to be proactive in adopting new solutions to stay secure.

14.  Secure Data Storage:

 Implement strong data security practices to safeguard sensitive customer information. This includes encrypting data at rest and in transit, using strong access controls, and regularly backing up data. In the event of a data breach, encryption can help minimize the damage by making stolen data unusable.

15. Incident Response Plan:

 Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in case of a security breach or identity theft incident. This plan should include procedures for notifying affected customers, containing the breach and investigating the incident. Having a well-defined plan in place can help minimize the impact of a data breach and ensure a swift and effective response.

16. Customer Awareness:

 Educate your customers about identity theft and best practices for protecting their personal information. Provide clear instructions on how to report suspicious activity and offer resources to help them safeguard their data. This can be done through customer emails, website content, or even including information within account statements.

17. Fraudulent Business Registration Monitoring: 

Services exist to monitor government databases for fraudulent registrations using your business name or EIN. Early detection allows you to take swift action to prevent damage.


Special Considerations for SMBs

Safeguarding your small businesses in the US is as important for large businesses. Here are some of the ways small businesses can protect their businesses from identity fraud in the US

1. Limited Resources: 

Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) may not have dedicated IT security personnel. Consider managed security services or partnering with cybersecurity professionals for comprehensive protection.

2. Cloud Storage: 

If you utilize cloud storage for business data, ensure you understand the security measures offered by the cloud provider. Implement additional encryption if necessary.

3. Physical Security: 

While most breaches occur online, remember physical security. Secure sensitive documents and limit access to unauthorized personnel.


The Insider Threat Businesses Can't Ignore

Disgruntled employees or those facing financial hardship can pose a significant risk. You can safeguard your business from insider threats through these effective measures: 

1. Background Checks: 

Conduct thorough background checks on all new hires, particularly those with access to sensitive data.

2. Least Privilege Access:

 Implement the principle of least privilege, granting employees access only to the information they need to perform their job duties.

3. Regular Monitoring: 

Monitor employee activity on company systems, particularly those with access to financial data or customer information.


Proactive Ways to Protect Your Business from Identity Fraud in the US

Don't be a victim! Strengthen your defences with these proactive steps to deter fraudsters:

1. Establish a Security Culture: 

Facilitate a company culture of cybersecurity awareness by educating employees on best practices for protecting sensitive information.

2. Data Encryption: 

Encrypt sensitive data, both at rest and in transit, to minimize potential damage in case of a breach.

3. Proactive Security: 

Regularly assess your systems and processes for weaknesses through security audits.

4. Credit Monitoring: 

Enroll in a business credit monitoring service to stay informed of any suspicious activity on your business credit report.


How to Lessen the Damage if Identity Fraud Occurs

Even with the best defences, fraud can happen. In the event of a business identity theft in the US, the following steps should be taken:

1. Immediate Action: 

If you suspect fraud, take immediate action to contain the damage. This might involve blocking fraudulent accounts, notifying bank and credit card companies immediately, and changing passwords.

2. Report the Crime: 

File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using their online complaint assistant at IdentityTheft.gov. Additionally, consider reporting the crime to your local law enforcement agency.

3. Investigate the Breach: 

Conduct a thorough investigation to understand the nature of the breach and implement measures to prevent similar attacks in the future.

4. Change Passwords and Secure Accounts:

 Immediately change passwords for all business accounts, including bank accounts, email, and any other online services.

5. Review Your Systems:

 Conduct a thorough review of your computer systems and network to identify any vulnerabilities that may have been exploited. Given the complexity of these threats, consider consulting a cybersecurity professional. 



The ever-growing threat of business identity theft in the US necessitates a proactive approach from businesses. Implementing powerful digital identity verification services alongside comprehensive security measures is essential for safeguarding your organization from fraud and protecting your bottom line. 

Youverify is a trusted partner in the fight against identity theft. We offer a state-of-the-art solution that empowers businesses to reduce fraud risk, enhance customer experience, ensure regulatory compliance, and improve business efficiency.

Don't let identity theft become a costly burden for your business. Contact Youverify today to schedule a free consultation and learn how our digital identity verification solutions can help you create a secure and trusted environment for your customers and your business.