Business identity theft is real. It’s a crime of economic opportunity. It happens. This is not a new area of opportunity for criminals. Business identity theft and fraud losses cost American companies billions each year. Business identity theft occurs when nefarious perpetrators assume, posture and masquerade as owners, directors, officers or employees of a company. The culprit(s) then illicitly attain credit, loans, lines of credit, electronics, and cash, or services and leaves the business with the fraudulent debts. This type of illicit act upon businesses, can happen anywhere, and at any time, a widow of opportunity presents itself.
Perpetrators execute identity theft schemes by gaining access to the business’ bank accounts, debit, credit cards or by stealing sensitive business information such as the Tax Identification number (TIN), Employer Identification number (EIN) or the owners’ Social Security number (SSN). Most criminals can target businesses through the mail or on the web in various forms such as spoof emails, online scams, and fraudulent payments. Many business identity theft are executed and arise from current or past employees.
COMMON TYPES OF BUSINESS IDENTITY THEFT
• Establishing temporary office space (local or out-of-state) and/or bank and merchant accounts in your business’s name. • Fraudulent ordering of merchandise or services on Net Terms, with stolen debit/credit card information or with bogus bank account information of your business. • Responding to “spam”– unsolicited E-mail – representing themselves as a: State of Federal Agency ie….IRS. Requesting employee personal data, bank account information, and other sensitive information of the business. • Using business owners, directors, officers personal identifying information in concert with the underlying business data to obtain and secure, credit, loans, services, merchandise, or cash. • Bank Fraud – With the right credentials business identity thieves can exploit and wipe out your bank account with little protection. • Filing deceptive documents with the Secretary of State’s, in order to change the business’ registered address or the names of owners, directors, officers or managers of a company, which then can subsequently perpetuate the fraudulent schemes, of establishing lines of credit or loans with banks and retailers.
Other types of business identity theft include: • Tax Fraud – filing fraudulent returns using tax subsidies and/or obtaining refunds through federal and/or state governments, • Website Defacement – manipulating and/or mirroring a business domain name, with similar name or common Top level domain registration extension. • Trademark Ransom – registering the business name or logo as an official trademark, and a demanding ransom for its release.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR COMPANY FROM BUSINESS IDENTITY THEFT
Strengthen Online Security for Your Business Accounts • Use different login information for each online account • Opt for random, unique passwords with a combination of capitalized and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Birthdays, addresses, and other types of public information are easier for scammers to guess, as are commonly used words such as PASSWORD. • Require that employees do not record login information • Monitor online business accounts frequently Safeguard Business Identification Information • Be wary of unsolicited requests for social security numbers or employee identification numbers (EINs). When sharing EINs, record the request. • Keep unnecessary information off business checks such as drivers license numbers, social security numbers or date-of-birth information • Review business credit information at least every quarter for inaccuracies Reduce Commercial Mail and Paper-Related Risks • Shred documents before discarding • Opt for electronic statements instead of paper statements to reduce the risk of theft • Track billing schedules and credit/debit card renewal dates. If a bill, payment, or company card is late, contact the responsible party to ensure safety. • Place outgoing mail directly in official mail collection boxes • Provide a safe place for personnel to store checks, invoices, and receipts
REPORTING BUSINESS IDENTITY THEFT
If identity theft occurs, take these steps as soon as possible: • Call Capital Oversight Fraud Hotline at 855-417-1700 • Contact the credit bureaus listed below and request a Fraud Alert on the business’s file. This alert will requires current or potential creditors to call a company representative before opening or updating any new or existing accounts: • Equifax: 800-525-6285 • Experian: 888-397-3742 • TransUnion: 800-680-7289 • Local Law Enforcement – Contact your local law enforcement oﬃce to file a police report. • District Attorney – Contact your local District Attorney’s Oﬃce. • State Attorney General – Contact your state’s Attorney General’s Office to report the fraud. Find contact information at www.naag.org(link is external). • Federal Law Enforcement – Contact your local FBI Field Oﬃce or submit an online tip at http://tips.fbi.gov. Look up your local field oﬃce at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field.
Report the Fraud to the Federal Trade Commission• Federal Trade Commission—Contact the FTC’s Complaint Assistant. Lodging a complaint with the FTC will also enter the fraud into the Consumer Sentinel Network so that law enforcement can stop ongoing fraud and track these crimes. Please note that this process will not initiate a criminal investigation of your case.
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