We have all seen the commercials about identity theft: The ones with the guy that uses someone else’s credit card to go on lavish vacations or buy expensive jewelry. While the commercials may be funny, the situation is serious. The fact is identity theft is the fastest growing and most expensive crime today.
For the record, identity theft is not just credit cards or financial theft- it can be medical insurance theft, driver’s license theft, or social security theft- the list goes on and on. Today’s high-tech criminals are smarter and savvier than ever before and they may be on your payroll without you even knowing it. For these reasons, the feds have recently passed several new rules, regulations, and penalties, many of which are aimed specifically at car dealerships, to help prevent identity theft.
Today’s car dealers are considered financial institutions, just like banks, because of the loan and paperwork processes completed in the finance office and because of the personal information needed to title a car. The result is a lot of valuable information identity thieves are looking for, in what can be an easy place to get it. Some dealers have designated their finance offices as secure document areas and have set rules to prevent deal jackets or any other personal information from floating around the dealership. Accounting offices have also become secure document areas with locks on doors and protected file cabinets. What is the primary reason for all this recent attention to security? Some serious fines that can be levied against dealerships if they do not make the effort to keep their customers information safe.
What I find scariest is that no one ever thinks to look at the service department. Walk back right now and see how many repair orders with names, addresses, phone numbers, vehicle serial numbers, and more can be found by just sitting on your service advisors desks. They are piled with information. Now take a look at your service history file storage area. Is it wide open for anyone to mess with? What about the customer information your salespeople save for future follow-ups?
What about your cashier’s office? What about your service manager’s desk? What about your employees files and all of the hiring information included within them? Watch for a list of rules called the Red Flag Rules. Take a walk around your store and make sure you are not leaving your dealership open for an employee or a customer to steal someone’s identity. Do your homework and protect yourself, your employees, and your customers.
Randy Johnson is president of Car People Marketing, a leading provider of customer retention and service marketing systems for auto dealers. He can be reached at 866-227-7337 or email [email protected].