If you thought that you could never be a victim of identity theft, think again as this rising menace has hit the corporate corridors! After the inauspicious beginnings of 2009 for the corporate India in terms of the shocking confessions of Ramalinga Raju and the ghastly revelations of the fudging of books of Satyam Technologies, the recessionary pressures have not only been regarded as a feeder to fraudsters at the corporate level but also at the individual level.
If you thought your company assets, wealth and clientele were all you needed to protect, maybe it is time to also safeguard the identity and ensure the authenticity of your employees.
Identity theft has surfaced as a serious threat for both the corporate and the individuals. Imagine having another person steal your wallet containing your identification or your mail, including your bank and credit card statements, rummaging through your trash to get your personal data, finding personal information at your home or on the internet, scamming you, often by email, by posing as legitimate companies, stealing files or bribing employees who have access to files with your information or obtaining your credit report by posing as a landlord/ employer. As a recruiter, imagine hiring a person who is another person, feigning to be someone else, blazing in your face a resume that represents all that he’s not.
“While conducting background checks for candidates we often come across such discrepant cases wherein an individual has forged his identity or has stolen someone else’s for a job”, states Ajay Trehan, CEO, AuthBridge. AuthBridge has witnessed an increase of 12 per cent in the identity theft or identity fraud cases during the last quarter. “This can be attributed to the tough economic times, which are ‘forcing’ fraudsters to commit such crimes. Whether it’s for employment or stealing an identity for cyber/telecom frauds, cyber thieves appear to be ramping up their operations to take advantage of the turmoil in the economy and perhaps to steal a few identities” says Trehan.
With increased business transactions over the internet, such chicanery has become child’s play, especially in the IT industry. Anjali Dureja, director at HVS Executive Search, explains, “The current economic instability has resulted in the increase of identity theft for professional or personal gains.
The IT/ITES sector employs large talent pools in India, and most of the job portals filling in this pool often obtain information online which is not secure; third party reference checks are of key importance in such cases. Weak cyber laws and policies is another major reason why identity theft or even online character assassination is easy in India.
It is much easier to malign someone’s character on social networking sites in India as there is no fear of judicial consequence. While in India we still don’t have concrete numbers on the extent of identity theft it will be fair to assume the rise in identity theft as online transactions and net banking increases manifold.”
“Security measures have been ingrained in our age old recruitment processes. I started my career in the manufacturing sector. Very stringent steps were taken to prevent entry of unauthorised persons at the plant, knowing it might be someone from the competitors or any stranger who might have some malafide intention, to the extent that we needed to protect the organisation against any possible attack by anti social elements, and in these days of terrorism against a possible terrorist. This is also the reason why investment in office security, investment in access, in screening visitors and empowerment of security staff is so important,” M S Venkatesh, President Group HR, Educomp Solutions Ltd explains.
CV fudging is a common manifestation of identity theft. When jobs are few and far between, potential employees resort to desperate measures to try and portray an image, as required by the company for the position applied for. How do recruiters differentiate between an honest CV and a fudged one? M S Venkatesh adds, “At the CV level, it is important not only to go through the resume carefully but also to review the client’s background and to talk to the candidate over a detailed 45 minutes meeting. One may also evaluate the results of a test of identity if it has been conducted by another company.
An antecedent check at another level also establishes the employees’ bona fide identity. Say, by directly communicating with any of his last three employers listed in the resume. During the downturn, companies have become even more mindful that they hire only authentic people who deliver results fast.” Times have changed. While faster flows of information have introduced efficiency in business practices, too much information, especially if unprotected, is a dangerous thing. Next time you leave your cabin, make sure the computer is password protected and even the trash in your bin is only bits and pieces of useless paper.
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