Welcome back readers to Vigilant Vanguard! Today we will be discussing a topic that’s at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the security of their money and their financial and personal information. Just how safe is your private information in an age of hackers, credit fraud, identity fraud, and cyber terrorism?
Safety and security are two of the biggest anxieties that everyone in the world has to deal with. Whether we are discussing the safety and security of someone’s possessions, health, loved ones, or money it all comes down to planning for the unexpected. In terms of planning for the unexpected, the majority of the population purchases insurance, in case something does go wrong, anything from a health related issue to a car crash, you will be covered. We all live in a dangerous world where anything can happen, to anyone, at any given second, this is why we plan for such unforeseen circumstances. Every minute, of every day, the world is adapting all around us, especially considering that we are living in an age of technological advancements that change our everyday lives on a constant basis. Living in an age of technological advancements opens the door to new opportunities, as well as new threats. One of the biggest concerns with these new threats are in regards to the safety and security of our money.
It has been said that money makes the world go round and if this is true what is the best way to secure the safety of your money? Banks are by far the most widespread form of security in terms of money, but of course there are still those people who don’t trust banks and are stuffing their mattresses with cash. A survey, on the average American savings highlights some shocking results, including the fact that the average American’s bank account balance is approximately $4,436. This might get you thinking about your own personal bank accounts and how close you come to this average. The survey also brought to light that approximately 7.7% of American households do not have a bank account, which is close to 10 million households. To give you some perspective there are roughly 123.2 million households in the U.S. thus the majority of households rely heavily on the safety of their banks. For those readers out there thinking to themselves, “why wouldn’t I trust a bank with my money,” it isn’t the fear of the bank being robbed at gun point. Instead one of the biggest fears that people have about having their money in a bank is the threat of identity theft and it has recently come to the public’s attention that a large percentage of these identity thefts are by bank employees. The people being hired and paid to represent the banks’, that secure our money, are now the same people who are robbing us blind, while our backs are turned. Leading to the question, how much do you really trust your bank and the bank employees with your hard earned money?
A recent article, published by Fox Business, written by Elizabeth MacDonald, highlights this topic of identity theft by bank insiders. Bank employees often steal personal account information from bank customers so as to rob money from bank accounts or commit fraud via identity theft. For example ten clients at Citizens Bank and Commerce Bank, as well as 25 Prudential Insurance customers in Lehigh County, Penn. had money stolen or fake credit cards set up in their names in an identity theft ring that included a Commerce bank teller, a former Citizens Bank manager, and a Prudential Insurance employee. They operated out of Philadelphia from 2006 until 2012 before getting caught and now all face serious prison time. This is a prime example of the mistreatment of customers from banks and their employees. The article also highlights a huge lawsuit brought by a JPMorgan Chase Bank customer, who was the victim of an identity theft ring that facilitated an estimated $77 million in Medicare fraud by stealing her identity. Citizens Bank, Commerce Bank, Prudential, and JPMorgan are some of the largest and most respected names in the banking and financial industry and they are blind to their employees scamming the system and their customers. Richard Goldberg, chief of economic crimes at the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia stated, “All the places that have your Social Security number, all present a potential of identity theft.” In other words, anywhere that your Social Security number or Personally Identifiable Information (PII), private data on individual documents, are listed puts you at risk. 17.6 million U.S. residents experienced identity theft in 2014, with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion. Think hard for a moment about all of the places and people that have access to your personal information, can you trust them and how can you be sure they are trustworthy?
Unfortunately, individual citizens are not the only people at risk of their money being robbed from their bank accounts or having someone commit fraud via identity theft. Many corporations and organizations are putting their employees and clients at risk of identity theft when these records are lost or stolen via a data breach. Data breaches are a realistic threat for any company, especially for companies that have access to peoples’ Personally Identifiable Information. In 2014, 43% of companies, in the U.S., experienced a data breach and 30% of those companies didn’t have a data breach response plan. A large percentage of the time a companies’ fine line of defense against owever, this only helps secure networks against outside hacks, but it doesn’t address the most frequent loss of private information, exposed PII elements scattered across archived business documents. This is smaller and less dramatic issue in a lot of companies’ eyes, like a snake in the grass, because it goes largely unseen, but when it bites it can be deadly. The total average cost of a data breach is roughly $5.5 million, documents at risk may be Social Security numbers, payment card information (PCI), medical information, bank account numbers, driver’s license numbers, and the list goes on. Almost half of the companies in the U.S. experienced a data breach in the last year and more than half of them weren’t prepared because they didn’t have a plan for such a circumstance. These companies are hanging their employees and customers out to dry, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft, will you be next?
At this point you may be asking yourself, how an organization should protect itself and the Personally Identifiable Information that is in its database. The answer to lowering the risk of losing these PII documents is by the use of redaction, defined as the censoring or obscuring of part of a text for a legal or security purpose. This process renders PII unreadable, while displaying all other information on the document. This is where your savior, Vanguard Systems, comes into play with its one software solution, ID Protect. ID Protect is very adaptable to almost any situation or need and the implementation of ID Protect, both in budget and for technical expertise, is low, meaning it is appropriate for low-volume and high-volume systems. Companies and organizations that aren’t investing in the protection of their employees’ and customers’ Personally Identifiable Information are essentially asking for a data breach of this information, leaving their employees and customers at serious risk. However, here at Vanguard we are here to say that we’ve got your back and the solution to your problem with ID Protect!
Vanguard President, Dave Engberg, describes ID Protect in a very simplistic way, “ID Protect works for any kind of information that needs protection, from Social Security numbers to college transcripts. It protects any text-containing format, whether it is a fax, a PDF, scanned correspondence, or word processing. It could be in the public or private sector and it could be a Fortune 100 department or a start-up. If ID Protect can see the information, it can redact the information.” He continues by explaining that given the need to protect PII elements, a company would have to pack up all of these documents and send them to a service bureau for bulk processing, which would cost a ton. However, they could simply apply ID Protect in-house, redacting as few or as many documents that they think are at risk. It’s a simple solution for a problem that doesn’t need to be blown out of proportion. It is the responsibility of companies and organizations to protect the private information of their employees and customers from both outside and inside threats. Vanguard System’s ID Protect safeguards your private information through the use of redaction because it has proven its efficiency, versatility, and cost-effectiveness. When technology causes a problem, it’s usually the solution as well. Till next time readers remember here at Vanguard the “V” is for Vigilance.