Corporate Identity Fraud
Identity fraud is a growing problem, with an increasing number of businesses and individuals being targeted by criminals.
New research suggests it can take more than a year for some people to discover that they have been the victim of identity fraud, by which time a great deal of damage may have been done; while corporate identity fraud can also ruin the reputation of an otherwise successful business.
The problem of individual identity fraud is relatively well¬publicised. Some of the more commonly known methods used by criminals to obtain sensitive information include:
- Searching through rubbish bins to find discarded documents, such as bank and credit card statements.
- Intercepting mail.
- Copying credit cards during a transaction at a shop or restaurant.
- So-called ‘phishing’ scams, which involve sending emails that look as though they have come from a bank or similar organisation, and asking customers to ‘confirm’ their details by return email.
Businesses are also increasingly at risk of being targeted by fraudsters seeking to use their details to create a false identity. There is a growing trend of criminal activity in this area, with fraudsters registering as company directors and then purchasing goods and services from suppliers, which they have no intention of paying for.
A common method used by the criminals involves accessing registered company records, changing the details of the company directors and registered address, and using the stolen identity to order goods, which are then intercepted at the fake address. Criminals can also make use of publicly available company bank account details and signatures for fraudulent purposes.
Reducing the risk
So, what steps can you take to help protect your business? Businesses can help to protect themselves by putting in place the following procedures:
- Storing sensitive documents in a secure place.
- Shredding documents before disposing of them.
- Checking their registered company details regularly, to ensure that they have not been changed.
- Training staff to be aware of the issues surrounding identity fraud, and limiting access to sensitive information to key staff.
- Checking customers’ details before offering them credit.
- Reducing the risk of electronic hijacking by ensuring that firewall and anti-virus software is up to date, and only opening legitimate email attachments.
- Keeping company bank account details out of the public domain.
The time for businesses and individuals to become complacent about their financial and personal records has long gone. By becoming vigilant about some of this information and implementing the steps that have been mentioned may prevent you or your business of becoming the victim of identity fraud.