We have all heard of Identity Theft. Using information they find in torn up rubbish and through online scams, criminals can make purchases, apply for credit in your name – even create fake passports and drivers licenses. Before you know it, you can be out of pocket by thousands of pounds, have your credit rating destroyed and even have to prove that you are, indeed, you.
When people form a limited company, they do not realise that companies can become the victims of identity theft as well. In much the same way, thieves and criminal gangs can use your company details to arrange credit, run up debts and try to change details held about you at Companies House.
They can try to:
- change the registered address of a business
- change the company secretary or director
- even appoint new directors
Companies House do not notify you when these types of forms have been lodged and have no powers to automatically check if any of the details are right. As a ‘new’ director, criminals can apply for credit cards, get goods delivered to a new registered office address and wreak havoc on your credit rating.
So what can you do to avoid it all?
- Take care to destroy all un-required financial documents and not just throw them in the bin
- Be on the look out for online and email scams where bogus emails are sent asking you to activate an account or update your details. Banks do not email their customers in this way, so even if it looks official contact your bank directly by phone (or going via a known address that you type in – do not click on a link in the email even if it looks legitimate) to confirm if they have sent you an email. If you do receive these types of email, notify your bank immediately.
- Take steps to protect your own personal data
- Keep an eye on Companies House data and forms
Just like with personal Identity Fraud, a few simple steps and a watchful eye can help keep your business safe – and ensure your company remains just that – yours.