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Small Business

 

Identity Theft of your Limited Company

Having formed a limited company you will probably get on with making your business a success. However you have probably not considered the potential for your company to be hijacked. Without your knowledge an individual may steal the identity of your company and begin to open bank accounts and enter into fraudulent contracts. A few simple steps can help to prevent this from occurring.

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The UK registry at Companies House provides a useful service for limited companies. In addition to incorporating and dissolving companies they also maintain the national register. This involves the recording and storing of data relating to all UK incorporated companies and LLP’s. Historically most records were updated by the submission of manual forms. This would include the submission of company accounts, change of address forms and forms appointing new company officers as well as many other documents. Whilst this system has served a purpose for many years it is far from secure as signatures are not checked and changes are implemented without further checks.

Identity fraud has increased over recent years, which meant that the previous system at Companies House was open to serious abuse. Companies have found their records have been updated without their knowledge. Individuals can masquerade as company officers, open bank accounts and enter into fraudulent contacts. It has been too easy for too long for businesses to be deceived and for companies to be hijacked

However, Companies House has now introduced some basic protective measures that limited companies in the UK can adopt. Firstly they have introduced ‘WebFiling’. This is an electronic online filing system. It allows companies to make changes to their company details online. Instead of posting forms to Companies House changes can now be made in minutes online. To increase security there are two simple security procedures used. A security ‘authentication code’ is issued for each company and users require a security code to access the software.

The second security improvement is that users can sign up for Companies House ‘PROOF’ service. This means that they will no longer accept manual paper forms to make changes to your company records. This stops the opportunist from simply completing forms and posting them to Companies House. Any paper forms will require further authorisation from existing officers.

Whilst these two points should reduce identity theft companies can also ‘monitor’ their companies filing. This does not literally require daily monitoring of Companies House. For a small fee of £0.50 per annum Companies House will inform you by email every time a document if filed at Companies House for your company. This includes manual and electronic filing. This means that you can double check all changes made to your company without leaving your desk.

These three simple to implement measures should help protect the future identity of your limited company. Not only will you have piece of mind but you will save your company time and money by filing online.

 

What are the Most Common Ways to Commit Identity Theft or Fraud

Thieves take advantage of everyday opportunities to discover your personal information, including your Social Security number (SSN), bank or credit card account numbers, income, name, address, or phone number, and use it to commit fraud or other crimes. Find out how to protect yourself.

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It's the number one source of consumer complaints at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and unfortunately, it's one of the simplest crimes to commit. Identity theft involves information from your daily life, from shopping, bill-paying, and even applying for a job. Thieves take advantage of everyday opportunities to discover your personal information, including your Social Security number (SSN), bank or credit card account numbers, income, name, address, or phone number, and use it to commit fraud or other crimes.

How can a stranger get to your information? According to the FTC, identity thieves may pose as legitimate representatives of an organization, as business professionals or agents of the government, conning you into revealing sensitive information. Common scams include impersonating employees from banks, credit card companies, Internet service providers, and utility companies. If someone calls you claiming to represent a legitimate organization, confirm this by calling the customer service number listed on your statement or bill.

Thieves may also use your place of employment to get the information they need. A co-worker may steal information from your employer; someone could hack into your company's computer and copy employee records; or a criminal could resort to the old-fashioned method of bribing someone you work with for your information. Check with your employer to find out the company policy on securing your records and disposing of them when you're gone.

If your employer is authorized to pull credit reports on employees or potential customers, someone could take advantage of this access to retrieve illegal reports. Criminals may also pose as employers, landlords, or collection agents to pull your credit information. It's a good idea to order a copy of your credit report once a year to check for unauthorized entries.

Shredding your documents before you throw them away is also good idea, whether at work or at home. Identity thieves have been known to sift through garbage, in the trash can or at the dump, to find sensitive information.

The most common form of identity theft is credit card fraud. Technology has allowed criminals to begin stealing your credit or debit card numbers as you use the cards, "skimming" them with an information storage device. In addition, thousands of drivers' licenses and credit and debit cards are stolen each year. Keeping your Social Security card in a secure location and safeguarding your purse or wallet while at work are necessary precautions.

Even your mail is a source for identity thieves, who may complete credit card applications in your name and go on a spending spree. After stealing your bank or credit card statements, tax information, or box of replacement checks, criminals are able to access your accounts and spend the funds in your name. They may even change the address on your existing account, diverting the bills to keep you from recognizing the problem until it's too late. Being aware of your billing cycles can help you catch a discrepancy in the arrival of your statements.

Identity thieves have a variety of ways to use your information for their personal gain. They may shop for big-ticket items using your credit or bank account information and then sell the items for cash. With your SSN and date of birth, they can open new bank accounts or apply for lines of credit. In fact, banks have granted loans to criminals using stolen identities for purchases as large as cars.

Telephone or internet service can be set up using your SSN. Thieves can avoid impending eviction or accumulated debt by filing bankruptcy in your name. Perhaps the most emotionally traumatic, police could issue a warrant for you if a criminal was arrested using your name and failed to appear at a court hearing.

The ways that identity thieves have conceived to acquire your personal information are numerous, but your vigilance and heightened awareness can curb their ability to make you a victim. And, if you sustain credit damage, go to http://www.apscreen.com to find out what you can do about it.

 

Why You Need to Visit WhoIs Identity Theft

An incredible number of web sites disappear every year, and not intentionally

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Recent case studies of 5 small business owners who had their web sites disappear from the internet may be the subject of an upcoming eBook. The situation happens more frequently than some people realize, so the following advice is being released now. Free domain registration information is easily retrieved and should be reviewed by any site owner who is unfamiliar with the term "WhoIs".

Many web site owners may not know what WhoIs means, so here is the short version and action plan. Do this today!

Web sites disappear for a variety of reasons, and small business owners are particularly susceptible to this problem because they are too busy running a business to learn about risks involved with a www domain or hosting.

Here is an outline of the basic cause in each of the 5 case studies:

1. Inactive Administrative Contact Email Address
2. Hidden Registrar and Incorrect Registrant
3. Expired Credit Card for Hosting
4. Hijacked Domain and Identity Theft
5. An Example of an ISP Shown as the Registrant

Learn from the mistakes that others have made, and in a few easy steps you can prevent this unfortunate surprise. Advice includes a cast of characters that may not be familiar. Let's introduce them first so you understand the difference between registry, registrar, and registrant.

Registry - the worldwide authority that controls issuing of www domains to avoid duplicates

Registrar - a service company authorized to register or renew domains with the registry

Registrant - the entity, person or company, who owns the license for a particular www domain
* Note: No one owns a domain. Registering is an exclusive license for a set period of time.

Most web site owners acquire a www domain for personal or business use through a registrar who acts on your behalf and applies for your domain with the registry. Approval is usually received within 24 hours. Your registration information is then kept on file with the registry. This is long forgotten until a problem occurs, usually by surprise!

The solution: Using any major search engine, do a search on "whois" and follow the links to access a whois database. Most have a search box for entering your www domain name, and once you hit enter or the go button the report is retrieved in a matter of seconds.

Reports may vary in format, however, all should display key information including registrar, registrant, administrative contact, technical contact, and perhaps billing contact. Confirm the accuracy of each, however, if any ONE piece of data is critical it is the administrative contact. It should be you, and it should list a current active email address. If either is untrue, it needs to be corrected. Next, let's explore the importance of the administrative contact.

The only recognized authority for controlling your domain, including changes, is the administrative contact, but wait. Changes can only be made by email correspondence, therefore your name as the registrant (or admin contact) does not make you the authorized person for changes. It is whoever answers the email listed under administrative contact, so an old or invalid email address will not work. The admin email address needs to be yours, and it needs to be kept current.

Review your registration information. Problems? Begin with your internet service provider to learn how to have entries corrected. You may need to contact your registrar, also.




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