Some 8.4 million people were victims of identity theft last year and spent an average of 40 hours trying to fix the problem, according to a recent study by Javelin Strategy & Research, a national financial services research firm.
"Many of those responsible for pirating the identities of others target small businesses as their source for personal information because they think such firms will be easy targets," said Joe Harper, director of the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center. "Unfortunately, many times they're right. But there are simple steps that can greatly reduce the chance that they'll successfully strike your business."
Business owners and operators can find out how to protect themselves and their customers at a free seminar presented by the SBDC from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Multipurpose Room of the UHV University Center, 3007 N. Ben Wilson.
Bert Howard, a certified identity theft risk management specialist, will teach business officials about the nature of identity theft, how to reduce the risk of it happening, and what steps the law requires businesses to take to protect customer information.
"This is an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the tools of the criminals' trade, how you can lock the doors of information, and how you can keep from being fined or sued if a thief picks the lock," Harper said.
The seminar isn't just for small Mom-and-Pop businesses, he said.
"If you accept any information from customers, you need to know what we will be presenting at this seminar," Harper said.
The event is free, but attendees are encouraged to preregister. To do so, or for more information, call Dina Boothe at 361-575-8944 or 877-895-7232.
The event is co-sponsored by DeGoLa Resource Conservation and Development.