Friday, September 30, 2011

Don’t Be a Victim of Identity Theft: How Meeting Planners Should Protect Themselves and their Company

Last year approximately 8.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. Unfortunately, this number continues to increase. So how can you make sure that you do not fall victim to thieves? There are simple precautions, especially for meeting planners, that can be taken to ensure that identity theft does not happen to you.
Meeting planners should make sure that their laptops or computers have passwords, proper firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware technology. If you must e-mail private information, including addresses or credit card numbers, learn to encrypt files you send. One obvious way to avoid data theft is to collect less data by requesting the minimum amount of data.

Before the meeting commences, planners should remind attendees to always watch their personal belongings. John Sileo, keynote speaker of identity thief, claims that “educating attendees is the most powerful thing that planners can do. If you have 1,000 attendees now every one of them is looking out…you’ve got 1,000 deputized police officers watching what’s going on in the room. That’s a huge difference”.

During the meeting, planners should ask the host hotel to set up a secure Wi-Fi connection where all meting attendees can log onto the Web with a user name and password. Make frequent reminders to attendees not to leave laptops, smart phones and purses or wallets unattended.

After the program ends, planners should protect themselves and their company by gathering all of the physical documentation used for the meeting. Planners should look into digitally destroying all records kept on computers, and make sure that the files have been taken off hard drives, or at least encrypted.

Protecting yourself from identity theft is not something that is only limited to meeting planners. Remembering these 5 quick tips will go a long way to prevent identity theft for anyone, especially when traveling;
1) Never leave your belongings unattended.
2) Only carry necessary items with you. Leave all other personal and valuable items at home or in your hotel such as your passport, credit card, laptop etc.
3) Only use secure Wi-Fi with a user name and password.
4) Be safe while using the Internet: Think before you click!
 5) Select complicated passwords for your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid passwords such as your birthdate, address or mother’s maiden name.