Business Identity Fraud is one of the most prevalent issues affecting business and companies today. Criminal elements of society have made artforms of defrauding individuals and businesses out of millions of pounds over the past 12 months alone.
The biggest question is what can you do about it?
The short answer is "plenty". While you can never stop fraudsters from attempting their tricks, as a commercial entity there are many steps you can take to avoid being one of the many businesses affected.
"Phishing" is the most obvious and visible threat to your business identity security. "Phishing" is a term used to describe the action of assuming the identity of a legitimate organisation, or website, using forged email and/or web pages and with a view to convince consumers to share their user names, passwords and personal financial information for the purpose of using it to commit fraud.
In more recent times the quality of these emails has grown to such a high standard that to the untrained eye it is almost impossible to differentiate between genuine and fake emails. A significant proportion of these emails purport to come from your banking organisation. While some banks will send out email publications, no banking establishment will require "log ins" nor "passwords" to be able to view the content or more importantly for confirmation.
In these instances the details you enter will be cloned/copied by the scammers and used for purposes such a taking out credit in your business name, changing addresses on the account, withdrawing vital funds, and gaining important business details that would be otherwise unavailable to them.
Although nearly all Identity Thefts are for financial gain, there are number of other linked actions which also have a direct impact on your business.
Companies House forms are by their nature public documents which are available to view/purchase sometimes for a small cost. The blank forms are also available to anyone who wishes to make any form of submission. The issue comes when a fraudster attempts to intercept. As a fraudster, all they need to do is complete Companies House form 288a and add themselves as a director to your business. From there they can change registered offices, change other directors addresses, apply for dissolution and do all manner of negative financial and administrative acts against your business.
These are just a few examples of potentially how easy it is for Identity Fraud to occur. Below I have created Seven Super Suggestions to help prevent this happening to you
1. Be Vigilant. It cannot be stressed how important is to keep a regular check on your company affairs by checking your credit file with one of the major Credit Reference Agencies. This should identify both from your credit rating and from the submissions if anything has happened without your knowledge.
2. Shred any information that you do not need to have a "physical" copy of such as pin numbers, passwords or other sensitive documents. A shredder costs as little as £15 but could save you thousands.
3. Never, ever, share your pin numbers or passwords with anyone, nor save them on any kind of hardware which could potentially be "hacked" or used by someone else.
4. Consider Identity Theft Insurance protection. If you do become the victim of Identity Fraud you will be able to recover your losses and restore your business goodwill and credit rating much quicker.
5. Act quickly should you think you may have become targeted for fraud (or even if you have). The quicker you record the situation the more swiftly it can be dealt with. You will not be the first…
6. Invest in a safe/lockable cabinets for sensitive documents and never leave them on show.
7. Consider an investment in some IT software to help prevent things such as "spyware" which infect computers and steal passwords etc which are then released to people committed to fraud.