Could business ID theft put you out of business?
Identity theft hits millions of Americans each year. What many business executives don’t know is that ID thieves are using a variation on the crime to prey on legitimate companies.
What’s the crooks’ modus operandi? They typically alter business records filed with a state government so they can impersonate companies in good financial standing. For example, thieves might change official documentation that lists a business’ address, corporate officers, or its registered agents. Using altered documents, they’ll get lines of credit in the company’s name and siphon off money. Once they’ve drained a business dry, they move on to the next victim, leaving the company with its credit — and reputation — in shambles. Banks and retailers take a hit, too, with a stack of worthless receivables rung up by the con artists.
The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) is taking the lead on getting out the word about business identity theft, steps to prevent it, and what your business can do to fight back. What’s NASS’ advice for businesses?
- File your reports and renewals with state filing offices on time.
- Check your business records regularly to make sure information is accurate.
- Even if your business isn't a going concern at the moment, check those records, too. ID thieves often target companies that are no longer in business in the hope their crime will go undetected.
- Many state offices responsible for corporate filings offer password protections for online transactions and email notifications when changes are made. Take advantage of these security features and limit employee access to your filings on a need-to-know basis.
- If you spot unauthorized changes to business records, contact your Secretary of State immediately.
- Monitor your bills and accounts for suspicious transactions.
For more information, visit the NASS website.