April 26, 2018

7 Ways Identity Theft Can Happen in Auto Dealerships – and How to Stop It

Auto contract on table with credit cards and silver toy car
Did you know that identity thieves are increasingly targeting auto dealerships?

In 2017, car loan and lease identity theft was considered the 6th most common identity theft complaint in the U.S. There were 9,935 specific complaints, a 43% increase compared to 2016.

According to statistics in the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2017 compiled by the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft accounted for 13.7% or 371,000 of the 2.7 million consumer reports about marketplace problems received by different government agencies.  

In the course of a car purchase or lease,  dealerships collect and store a lot of personal data. Earlier research showed that 84% of car buyers would not go back to a dealership that had been a victim of a data breach.

7 Risks of Identity Theft in the Auto Industry

Messy Desk

Leaving confidential papers out on a desk or counter makes it easily accessible for anyone to simply steal the information - increasing the risk of a data breach.

Solution: A Clean Desk Policy directs everyone to keep their workplace tidy and to be aware of confidential data they handle. Lock important documents inside a desk or file cabinet.


Visual Hacking

Visual hacking is when someone discreetly uses a smartphone to take a screenshot of confidential information or memorizes what they see. This can happen in a showroom when a salesperson wanders away from their desk.

Solution: Provide privacy filters for desktop monitors, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Do not save passwords, etc., on Post-it notes.    


Risky Workspace Layout

Where are the photocopier and recycling bins located in the dealership? These are typical areas where confidential papers can be left behind.

Solution: Photocopiers should be in an employee-only area, and open paper recycling bins should be replaced by locked consoles (provided by a document shredding partner).  


DIY Shredding

In-house shredding is often haphazard (and without record), with no real security process that protects data. The shredding machines are usually strip shredders, and the long strips can be reassembled. 

Solution: Partner with an outside shredding service that uses industrial grade cross-cut shredding equipment and provides a secure chain of custody.


Online Phishing Scams

Phishing scams try to trick the end user into logging into a fraudulent system (where they may be required to enter confidential information) or download malware.

Solution: On-going education should teach employees about online scams and information security best practices.


Auto Dealership Insiders

An auto dealership’s own employees can be one of the biggest risk factors. Employee error is a common cause of data breaches, and there’s also a fraud risk that comes with hiring unvetted employees.

Solution: Create a culture of security in the workplace including best practices reminders. The hiring process should include background checks.


Dated Equipment

Technology in the workplace dates quickly and legacy equipment, especially if it is stockpiled, can increase an auto dealership's vulnerability to attack.

Solution: Do not stockpile or recycle old hard drives. Protect the confidentiality of a workplace with professional paper shredding and hard drive destruction services.


Start Protecting Your Business

Learn more about the risks an auto dealership may face and how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.