During the first few weeks of the year, many business owners are scrambling to get completed W-9s from contractors so they can issue 1099s. I’m going to take an educated guess that a lot of these information exchanges take place through email. Yet email transmissions of sensitive data expose these contractors to identity theft.
Why am I so sure that email is often the tool of choice? I see it every day in my accounting practice when clients insist on emailing me W-2s, mortgage and bank statements vs. using our secure portal. You know I’m all about efficiency, but not when it puts my clients at risk.
Without getting too technical, let me give you a few reasons why email is not secure:
- Email’s original purpose was to transfer messages across a wide variety of computers and networks. Security was an afterthought, which brings me to my next point.
- Encryption systems vary across email providers and businesses. While you as an owner may have invested in all the latest technology to protect your communications, you cannot assume everyone else’s email service has done the same.
- Have you ever sent an email to the wrong address? Enough said.
- Do you like having easy, on-the-go access to your emails and their attachments? Identity thieves do, too! Lost or stolen cell phones and tablets can offer fraudsters an information feast on a platter.
I care about my clients and their security, and that’s why WE use a secure portal for receiving and sending information. If you think it’s too much trouble to use the portal, think about the effort, time, and money required to clean up after identity theft!