Instead of the usual newest dream gizmo, one of the buzz catchers at the January Consumer Electronics Show was a software-based offering. While curved phone screens were a hit, so was software that uses facial recognition algorithms to replace passwords on every website you access. The principal benefit cited: Recent security breaches at Target, Sony, etc.
Two stories linking car dealers and identity theft also filled my Google Search inbox in January. One was a dealer whose employee stole customers’ non-public personal information. The other was a story of a salesperson that caught onto an ID thief’s scam and instead of turning the thief in, demanded to be part of the scam.
Three people I know had their identities stolen and false tax returns filed and refunds cashed. They spent over half a year getting the issue corrected and now the IRS is offering secure PINs to taxpayers to avoid the same scenario taking place between now and tax day this April.
Identity theft continues to be the highest profile personal crime for many reasons. Consumers tend to be lax about their own information, thieves seem to be better and slicker than the security departments or vendors, and the police and other governmental agencies tend to shrug it off or not even take a police report anymore. In other words, we don’t always care; they are motivated and not likely to get caught.
In the midst of all of these currents and crashing waves, dealerships are deputized by the government to have policies, procedures and practices in place to help stem the tide of identity theft.
Safeguards Rule – requires dealers to have protective practices in place so that it not reasonable to expect an identity thief will be able to access and steal customers’ non-public, personal information. The government expects this protection in place for both paper and digital information, against inside and outside jobs. Remember, at least two of the recent stories of ID theft occurrences at dealerships involved employees.
Disposal Rule – requires dealers to properly dispose of non-public, personal information. Shredder boxes work well for paper, trash cans do not. Cleansing the hard drives on computers, laptops, copiers, and fax machines when you upgrade is essential.
Red Flags Rule – requires dealers to be vigilant on every single transaction to avoid selling a vehicle to a thief using a victim’s identity. I can’t think of a vendor who provides credit bureau reports that doesn’t also provide a Red Flags tool so the Sales Manager can be alerted to a potential ID theft situation.
The first part of every business year is spent at least in part on reviewing old and updating practices, policies and procedures. A thorough review of your ID Theft Prevention Program is definitely one of your Federal requirements that deserves your attention and review.
“In the midst of all of these currents and crashing waves, dealerships are deputized by the Federales to have policies, procedures and practices in place to help stem the tide of identity theft.”