Identity Theft At Work: How to Prevent It

If you've never thought about identity theft at work, here are some reasons why you should

No one argues that identity theft is a problem. Everyone is familiar with online identity theft, and the problems it can create if someone gets ahold of personal information such as your credit cards, social security number, or birth certificate. But it may surprise you to know that identity theft is also a problem in the workplace.

We tend to trust the people we work with, but it's surprising how often identity thieves take advantage of that very trust. That's not to say all of your coworkers are thieves, of course -- they probably aren't, but extreme circumstances can drive people to do things they would normally not consider.

Depending on your workplace, it isn't only coworkers who could perpetrate identity theft, either. If there are clients or customers around, they could easily access your information while you're away from your desk.

Workplace identity theft protection

Practicing identity theft protection at work is largely a matter of common sense. These helpful tips will make sure you keep yourself safe without angering or offending anyone.

1. Think about how safe your computer is. Who could access it? What sort of information is on it? Most workplace computers these days allow you to lock your station if you're going to be away for more than a minute or two, and you should take advantage of that feature. And always save personal files, especially financial records, to a flash drive, not your workplace desktop.

2. Don't allow your workplace computer to remember passwords for you. Sure, if you're the only one who ever uses your computer, it might be convenient to have it log into your email, eBay account, or even bank account easily. But keep in mind that other people, from customers to the cleaning crew, could access your files.

3. Watch out for shoulder surfing: people who stand behind you, probably chatting away, while watching you type in passwords and the like.

4. If your company assigns you a password, change it as soon as possible. There's no reason for them to have your password on record. If they won't allow this, assume they're monitoring your transactions and avoid doing anything not related to work on your computer. This is a pretty safe bet anyway. You might be allowed to make purchases on your work computer, but does the IT tech really need to know your shoe size?

5. Keep your wallet or purse with you or locked in your desk. Never leave it unattended, even if you're just running to the washroom. It only takes a couple of seconds for someone to copy down your credit card numbers.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of danger in the workplace. People tend to protect themselves from online identity theft, but forget about the people surrounding them. Follow these tips to keep yourself safe from identity theft at work.

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