​If you’ve hung around the identity theft world long enough, you’ve likely heard of familiar fraud: the particularly painful form of fraud when someone close to you - usually a family member—steals your private information and exploits it for financial purposes.

​But it’s not just individuals that can find themselves betrayed by those closest to them. Employee data fraud poses a real challenge to organizations of all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a worker at a gas station or restaurant using a skimmer to steal card information from unsuspecting customers or a government employee downloading personal information of thousands of his coworkers, no employer is immune to threat.

​Here are some initial steps you can take to mitigate threats and minimize the risk of employee theft:

​Build trust gradually.

​It may sound obvious, but it’s true: Trust grows over time. Anyone can manufacture a good first impression, but true character will inevitably manifest itself. Wait until an employee has demonstrated trustworthiness in small areas before you trust them with your company’s most sensitive data. And when hiring new candidates, vet them as thoroughly as possible, calling references and asking tough questions.

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Make data security a priority.

​Verizon recently released a study that revealed some troubling findings on data security. It found that almost a third of businesses acknowledge that they cut corners on cybersecurity on mobile devices to strengthen business performance and only 14 percent used basic security procedures.

​It’s incredibly easy to skimp on security with the pressure of deadlines and bottom-lines. But in the long run, it could ultimately wind up costing you far more: your data, your brand and your reputation. Take the time to implement good security practices and rules about how employees use public Wi-Fi, limiting app downloads to those that have been approved and using two-factor authentication.

Have a plan in place for when a security breach does happen.

​Whether it’s internal or external theft, if your organization handles sensitive information, a data breach is almost inevitable. Know what assets you have that thieves are likely to target and consider how you might reclaim them in the event of a breach or incident. Consider the impact this would have on your employees and shareholders and what you can do to help them protect and recover any sensitive data that may have been misused.

​There’s no way to guarantee that you can avoid employee data theft, but by taking strong precautions, you can minimize its effects and establish a workplace culture of transparency, accountability, and honesty.