Advice:Beware of company identity fraud

By , published on 4th October 2011

A recent crime prevention campaign run by the Metropolitan Police, working together with Companies House, has highlighted the threat of ‘company hijacking’. Principally affecting small and medium-sized businesses, the loss to industry caused by this type of fraud is estimated to be more than £50million per year.

The fraudster files forms at Companies House notifying the appointment of a fictitious new director and a new registered office for a legitimate company. The Registrar of Companies, who cannot check that all these documents are genuine and is not obliged to by law, registers them. The fraudster then uses the company’s credit rating to obtain high-value goods and services.

To protect your business from fraud the Metropolitan Police recommend the following four steps:

1. Check your ‘REGISTERED DETAILS’ regularly at Companies House.

You can verify your company’s registered office online at any time, free of charge, on the Companies House website. A director’s appointment report can be purchased for £1.00.

2. File your documents online.

Sign up to the Companies House ‘PROOF’ service, a free, password protected online system for companies to alter their details on the register. This system is far more secure than the existing ‘paper record’ system as no changes can be made without the password.

3. Join an ‘alert’ system to warn you of any changes to your company details.

Companies House and all the major credit reference agencies have suitable subscription systems in place at nominal cost. The Companies House Direct online search service monitors your company and alerts you via email if a document is filed. If the document was filed by you, ignore the email and there is no charge. If it was not filed by you, you can download and pay for an image of the document.

4. Do not rely on Companies House records alone in determining whether to lend on credit.

Companies House is a public record and not a crime prevention service or credit reference agency. Always satisfy yourself that your customer is legitimate through additional means.

Visit www.companieshouse.gov.uk or http://www.met.police.uk/fraudalert/company_fraud.htm for more details.

Need to ensure your new customer is who they say they are? Then call me at Janette Whitney & Associates on 01403 733671 for professional, impartial advice & solutions.

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Janette Whitney

About Janette Whitney

Janette Whitney is an award-winning business consultant, media columnist and award-winning business author. She specialises in business growth strategies and finance and formed her consultancy business after a highly successful career in banking. Janette’s expertise has won her both national and regional awards which include ‘Consultant of the year’ and ‘Business Book of the Year’ award (as co-author of ‘The Essential Business Guide’).

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