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The essential guide to avoiding corporate identity crime

Identity fraud is the UK's fastest growing crime and is estimated to cost the UK economy around £2 billion per annum. However, it is not only individuals who are affected; businesses and business-owners can also fall victim to corporate identity crime. Read on to ensure you are not caught out by the corporate fraudsters.

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Identity fraud is the UK's fastest growing crime and is estimated to cost the UK economy around £1.7 billion per annum. However, it is not only individuals who are affected; businesses and business-owners can also fall victim to corporate identity crime. Read on to ensure you are not caught out by the corporate fraudsters. This encompassing term describes the three main types of corporate identity related crimes: corporate identity theft, creating a false corporate identity and committing corporate identity fraud. Corporate identity theft: when a genuine business is cloned and its name and credit accounts are used to fraudulently obtain goods, services and money. This crime is estimated to cost British industry £50 million a year. A company can be cloned if fraudulent documents are filed with Companies House; the genuine company will then become liable for debts incurred by the fraudster. Creating a false corporate identity: fictitious details are used to set up and register a business that does not exist. This can also be achieved by altering the details of a genuine company to create a new business, which is then used to order goods with stolen credit cards or credit accounts that appear to be from a genuine company. Corporate identity fraud: is committed when the details of either a genuine business (corporate identity theft) or a fictitious business (false corporate identity) are used to fraudulently obtain goods or services. Companies House: fraudsters recognise and exploit the fact that Companies House does not have the authority to inspect the contents of documents sent to them for filing. Therefore, it is possible for company details to be changed without their permission or knowledge. Companies are advised to regularly check that their details have not been altered. Companies House has introduced a variety of services that allow companies to file securely and electronically check documents, these include: WebFiling Service: a safe and secure way for companies to electronically file their statutory information. Companies can save 50% on the cost of filing an annual return. Software Filing Service: aimed at companies who regularly submit statutory documents such as limited company accounts or annual returns. Documents can be sent electronically to Companies House, and are then checked for compliance with the Companies Act prior to being accepted or rejected. PROOF (PROtected Online Filing) Service: helps companies reduce the possibility of fraud by only allowing specific forms relating to changes of address and directors' details to be filed electronically. Any paper versions of these forms will be rejected. Monitor Alert System: users can ‘monitor' public domain documents filed by themselves, their competitors and business collaborators. When documents are submitted, users are notified and given the opportunity to order them. In addition to Companies House, other business monitoring services are available from: - Formations House (www.formationshouse.com) - Protect My Company (www.protectmycompany.co.uk) About the author Matthew Record is an experienced media researcher and successful author whose latest book, Protecting Your Identity provides a comprehensive and practical guide to protecting you from identity theft and its damaging consequences.

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