It's important for consumers to protect against identity theft at all times - even when in the workplace.
A recent report by identity theft monitoring services company IdentityTruth pointed to some of the threats people face while in the office. Even if an individual's coworkers have no interest in compromising his or her identity, several of these risks expose personal information to the outside world.
Photocopy machines top the IdentityTruth list. These devices scan and store an image of everything they have ever copied onto a hard-drive, according to the report. If these hard-drives are not erased before the machine is sold, they can inadvertently transfer thousands of personal documents into the wrong hands.
Employee IDs should also be stored in a secure area. These cards often contain both a full name and photograph, and may be easily forged and used to obtain other information, according to the report. Personal information may also be stolen if an individual's work computer is the victim of malware. Therefore, it is important for workers to install the latest anti-virus software, even if their employer does not. Consumers whose computers have succumbed to a virus should abstain from entering personal logins and passwords.
IdentityTruth also offered several tips for those planning to leave their job. First, it's important to ask that any documents containing their personal information are shredded, according to the report. Those kept within the employer's files should have Social Security numbers and other sensitive information blacked out.
Consumers should take efforts to erase personal documents stored on their computers, according to the report. Deleting web browser history and making sure that no passwords are stored can further prevent their information from falling into the wrong hands.
"Most people feel safe at work and think that they're protected by company firewalls and anti-virus monitoring, but there are various on and offline aspects of office life that leave a person more vulnerable to identity theft," Steven Domenikos, CEO of IdentityTruth, said.
Business owners should also take efforts to ensure that their bank accounts and wireless internet connection are encrypted. Law mandates this kind of protection, particularly because such accounts often carry higher balances than private ones and are consequently more attractive to identity thieves.
Identity theft is one of the nation's fastest growing crimes and led to $54 billion in economic losses last year, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.