INC. BRANDED CONTENT / IDENTITY GUARD
A few years ago, Joe Palumbo, owner of Minneapolis- based Ice Dam Removal Guys, started getting angry
calls about shoddy work. He was
dumbfounded. There was no record of
him servicing these people. Negative
online reviews about his company’s ice
removal services also began popping
up from customers that weren’t his.
After some digging, he learned
that someone else was using his
company’s name, causing immense
confusion. Because he was a local
leader in the ice dam removal
business, he believes it was done
maliciously. “He stole my company’s
identity,” he says. “He was riding our
coattails to get some of our business.”
Unfortunately, identity theft is a
growing problem among small
companies. In 2016, there were 82,000
reported cyber incidents among
business of all sizes, says Craig Spiezle,
executive director of the Online Trust
Alliance, an organization that promotes
online trust and security. Unreported
incidences could bring this number
closer to 250,000 a year.
“You have to rethink what’s an
incident,” he says. “Today’s threats have
expanded exponentially, taking over
social accounts, causing reputational
harm, and afecting the identity of
everything related to that business.”
In today’s world, breaches
are inevitable, says Spiezle, and
organizations need to be prepared.
When such breaches happen,
they can cause major problems,
Jerry Thompson, senior vice-president
at Identity Guard, a Virginia-based
business that helps prevent identity
theft via a suite of security products.
Compromised business owners
may have trouble receiving loans from
banks, customers could stay away,
and employees may find their own
Generally, hackers use stolen data
in multiple ways, says Thompson. They
may withhold data for ransom, sell the
stolen information, or use it to harm
the identity and reputation of the
company for personal or fnancial gain.
Identity Guard provides several
layers of protection with its new
Breach Readiness product. First,
customers conduct a forensic scan to
fnd vulnerabilities in their computer
systems. Hackers usually gain access to
a company through phishing scams – an
email is sent to a stafer who clicks on a
link, allowing the hacker into the system
– and they then work their way into a
network through these vulnerabilities.
It is critical for owners to frst fnd them
and then patch them, says Thompson.
Identity Guard has also created a
document for its customers, which outlines best practices on how to prevent
and handle a breach.
The idea is to prevent an attack, not
simply react to one. “You don’t want to sit
around and wait to get hacked,” he says.
If a breach does occur, Identity
Guard will help fx the problem. They
provide identity-monitoring codes
that alert employees if their personal
information is used, and they also help
people get their identity back by telling
them how to deal with credit card
companies or other afected services.
Palumbo would have been well served
by using other Identity Guard services,
including social media monitoring.
Independently, he hired a lawyer,
sent a cease-and-desist letter, and
used takedown notices to get content
removed from the Internet. While the
other company stopped impersonating
his business, he knows there is always
a danger of fresh attacks. “If you’re
a leader, you’re always going to be
a target,” he says. “I just need to be
prepared for it.”
Too Small to Fall
Victim to Identity
Theft? Think Again.
Identity theft doesn’t just happen to big companies;
it’s a problem for small operations, too.
Online Trust Alliance
For more information on the
Online Trust Alliance, please visit