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What To Do If Your Business Is The Victim Of A Crime

At the core of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)‘s mission is an unrelenting commitment to helping entrepreneurs learn and grow in every stage, both personally and professionally. Businesses are facing unprecedented challenges due to both Covid-19 restrictions and protests against police brutality. We asked Emily Lazration from CoverWallet, a tech company that makes it easy for businesses to understand, buy and manage commercial insurance online, what steps business owners should take if their company is the victim of a physical or cyber crime. Here’s what she shared:

Imagine arriving at your business one morning to find it broken into and damaged. This is an unfortunate reality for many small business owners. Despite taking reasonable preventative measures, your business could still be the victim of a crime.

How to deal with burglary and vandalism

So, what should you do if you find yourself in this situation?

  • Call the police immediately. As soon as you notice your company has been burglarized, it’s important to let the police handle the matter. If there’s obvious property damage, avoid going inside until authorities arrive, as the suspect might still be on the premises. In addition, provide police with all relevant information that might help them catch the culprit, like surveillance video.
  • Document the stolen or damaged items. With the police already investigating the incident, identify equipment and items that are missing or damaged. If you use inventory management software, it can serve as a useful double-check. Employees can help create a list of stolen items. It’s important to gather your receipts and invoices and take photos of damaged items so you can file a claim with your insurance company. Business insurance, such as commercial property insurance, may cover the cost of damage. ​Bonus tip: If you operate in a high-risk industry or a high-crime area, consider purchasing commercial crime insurance. Such a policy will cover your business against acts of fraud, forgery and employee theft.
  • Start the recovery process. A burglary can take a toll on day-to-day operations. As soon as authorities are finished investigating the crime scene, start cleaning and getting things back in order to minimize disruption to your operations.
  • Change the locks and update your business’s security system. Don’t neglect this crucial final step: Call a locksmith and change your security alarm codes.

How to deal with cyber crime

Theft comes in many forms. In our digital age, cyber crime is becoming more and more common. Don’t be complacent in believing that your business won’t be a target; if you store sensitive data, such as employee records or customers’ credit card information, you’re at risk of a cyber attack. In 2019 alone, 43% of all data breaches involved small businesses.

If you discover that your business has been hacked, here are the next steps to take:

  1. Notify customers as soon as possible. As a business owner, you’re legally obligated to inform customers if their information has been stolen. Each state has its own definition regarding what constitutes personal information and how customers must be notified, so be sure to check local regulations. When informing your customers, do so through a written notice. Indicate when it happened, what information was compromised, and what your business is doing to resolve the issue.
  2. File a notice of breach. If more than 500 customers have been impacted, some states require you to file a notice with the Attorney General’s office.
  3. Put an incident response plan into action. It’s a best practice to have a plan in place before a breach happens to help you recover as quickly as possible. This plan can include contact information for lawyers, vendors and IT experts. It should include a comprehensive layout of your computer network so it will be easier to pinpoint which areas hackers may have used to penetrate your database.
  4. File an insurance claim. If your business maintains a database of customers’ personal information such as credit card details, you should already have cyber liability insurance. Cyber liability insurance is designed to help your business recover from precisely this type of situation. The policy covers legal defense fees, cost of settlements and notification payments. If your company is hacked, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to begin the claim process.
  5. Set up a contingency plan. Minimize the risks of future cyber attacks by enhancing your cyber security protocol. Consider updating the way you handle different processes and have a backup network to ensure business continuity in times of crisis.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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