Paper documents and forms are an everyday staple in many areas of business. So is the security of customer-related data, information and materials. As the Internet of Things makes its way into many operations, companies are faced with increasing complexities around reducing the risk of disruption. And certain organizations are particularly reliant on providing the highest possible level of protection, such as credit unions, banks and other financial institutions.

Forms are needed in virtually all business transactions and often require people to disclose sensitive details of their identity, including social security and checking account numbers. If this material ends up in the wrong hands, it could lead to theft and criminal activity. Whether it is for insurance forms, payment records, checks, invoices or tax forms, it is imperative that companies maintain a strong defense strategy to ward off attackers.

Anti-counterfeiting compliance requirements
Financial institutions are tasked with finding a balance between making essential documents easy to retrieve by stakeholders and ensuring they won't be accessed by unintended parties. It is not just individuals' identities that can be stolen; their money can be too. And ensuring customer information is safe is not just crucial to avoid reputational damage. It's the law.

The Safeguards Rule, set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, is a part of the Gram-Leach-Bliley, or GLB, Act that requires financial institutions to keep information confidential and secure by adhering to a set of regulations. In addition to writing a plan of protection that must be regularly monitored, the rule also suggests organizations work with providers that can adequately apply safeguards for customer privacy.

Printers pose a particular security threat to companies, which is one of the reasons why having a strong IT infrastructure in place is important. This can help combat counterfeit and fraudulent crimes, as well as data breaches and cyberattacks. Over the past few years, there have been a handful of high-profile cases where well-known companies were the victims of data leaks. These kinds of occurrences can make consumers extremely cautious of who they give their information to and also make corporate executives particularly finicky about which solutions providers they partner with.

Although digital platforms are becoming an increasingly vulnerable channel for financial hacks and crimes, it is not only IT security that businesses need to worry about. There are many types of fraudulent behavior that occur with tangible materials. Checks are one of the most commonly used forms in financial transactions. Unfortunately, they are also especially vulnerable to theft and duplication. A payment fraud survey conducted by the Association of Financial Professionals revealed that 62 percent of finance organizations were victims of payment fraud attacks in 2014 and that checks are the most frequently targeted forms of payment for these types of crimes.

Printer security solutions
Printing service companies play a critical role in the out-of-box prevention of fraudulent activity. There are many ways to defend sensitive financial information. While there are a range of measures that can be taken to ensure a safeguarded approach to handling, storing and sharing these forms, it is important that businesses start at the basic level with the document itself. To reduce risks, financial institutions must apply a multi-layer strategy to paper printing.

Businesses can use either in- or on-paper features, all of which make it significantly more difficult for the forms to be reprinted, reproduced, forged or altered in any way. In-paper solutions are built into the structure of the material while it is being manufactured. These include artificial watermarks, indicator stains, invisible or visible fibers, tamper-proof patterns and toner adhesions. On-paper solutions are added post-manufacturing and contribute an increased layer of protection. Options consist of micro-printing, holograms and thermochromic, metameric or abrasion-reactive inks.

By working with a printing service provider that specializes document security and leverages innovative technologies, financial businesses can develop customized security systems. The success of organizations in this industry hinges on meeting the standards and expectations of consumers. People assume the banks, credit unions and other institutions they work with will protect their information and it is the responsibility of the company to ensure they are right.