Consider a few key fraud-prevention guidelines before revamping your data security policies.

Last month, fraud prevention company Feedzai collaborated with the market research firm Harris Poll Interactive to see how Americans feel about identity theft. The organizations polled more than 2,000 consumers and came upon some startling statistics.

More than half of respondents said they trusted no businesses or nonprofits with their personal data. Additionally, an astonishing 18 percent said they would rather suffer broken bones than experience identity theft.

Of course, larger retailers who regularly wade through mountains of credit card receipts and online order forms may not find these numbers particularly surprising. However, smaller sellers with local clientele might be surprised by the inherent mistrust represented in these data points. Of course, such enterprises can win back consumer confidence and drive business development by building robust fraud prevention policies and procedures.

If you run one of these trust-hungry retailers, consider a few key fraud-prevention guidelines before revamping your data security policies.

Data security is immensely important in today’s web-based retail environment.

Data security is immensely important in today's web-based retail environment.

Develop strong internal policy

Many times, mom-and-pop retailers encounter problems because they fail to hire specialized personnel to handle key data security duties and instead assign them to inexperienced clerks or other employees, Inc. reported. Additionally, some don’t even draft actual protocols for protecting customer data, thinking hackers and cyberthieves only attack larger corporations. According to industry experts, malicious coders target business of all sizes, as technology gives them nearly endless bandwidth and enables them to prod network defenses for multiple businesses, simultaneously.

Organizations that don’t address these initial intrusions with updates and suffer breaches as a result shell out major money to recover data and shore up their defenses, the security firm Kaspersky Lab found. In 2015, small and medium enterprises spent around $38,000 per breach.

With this in mind, draft set-in-stone data security protocols and hire or contract skilled personnel to update and manage your online infrastructure. Your policy should include directions on how to operate key enterprise systems and include information on how to dole out access. The Small Business Administration advises companies against creating master user profiles with unlimited permissions.

The protocols should also contain rules pertaining to customer relations, the Houston Chronicle reported. Advise your employees on ways they can protect customer data at the point of sale. For instance, you might require them to ask for identification when checking out patrons using credit cards. These seemingly old-school actions may seem trivial in today’s fast-paced, data-driven world, but they can save you money and protect honest clientele in the long run.

Implement digital defenses

Small businesses who wish to provide serious data security for their customers should invest in digital encryption technology. These systems defend essential stores of data against hackers and internal threats using permissions-based security keys and passphrases.

“Small businesses should invest in digital encryption technology.”

Of course, adopting such a system takes a lot of work. You must select and train users and instruct your information technology personnel on how to install updates. The latter task is immensely important, as system providers develop updates – called patches – to fend off the near constant stream of new, more effective data-stealing programs.

“Remember that encryption technologies can be rendered obsolete by events completely external to the enterprise. This may mean that the entire encryption infrastructure needs to be overhauled rapidly to insure that (personally identifiable information) remains appropriately confidential over its useful lifetime,” Lawrence Rogers, a data security expert at Carnegie Mellon University, told Inc.

Acquire a secure point of sale system

Along with effective encryption software, you should also consider adopting a secure point of sale and inventory system. Such software can hold terabytes of precious customer data and, if compromised, can create serious problems.

If you’re interested in winning back customer confidence and defending your business against costly data breaches, consider Visual Retail Plus. Our point-of-sale software features user-level permissions, unlimited security levels and automated violation reports. Interested? Contact us today.