Proof positive

Identity theft is a phrase that usually conjures up images of consumers who have had their credit worthiness exploited by criminals, and used to commit frauds involving benefits, loans, credit cards and so on; and it is a huge problem. According to the government this crime now affects around 100,000 people each year, and we are increasingly likely to protect ourselves by being vigilant with our personal information and paying for identity theft insurance.

 
Corporate identity theft has always been a problem: according to the Metropolitan Police, fraudsters who steal a business’s identity then trade using its legitimate credit and name already cost British business over £50m a year. Unfortunately, this type of fraud can have appalling consequences for a business, ruining its credit rating and leaving it with massive charges to clear, as David Waterman discovered when the identity of his family business was stolen.
 
‘I signed up to a service which monitors changes at Companies House’, he explains, so that he would be alerted if there were any alterations to the circumstances of his major clients, but one of the email notifications he received revealed that his own company had changed its registered office. ‘I called Companies House assuming it was a mistake,’ he says. But it wasn’t – and setting the record straight was not easy.
 
When the police explained the extent of the problems to him he immediately corrected his live Companies House record, but he was unable to remove the fraudulent entry from his company filing history without going to court; something that left him with a significant legal bill. If he had signed up to Companies House Proof system at the same time as he signed up for Monitor (see below), he could have avoided all the aggravation.
 
Unfortunately, it is possible for almost anyone to submit paper forms to Companies House, which will change the registered address of a business (form 287), change the company secretary or director (form 288c) or appoint new directors (form 288a), and criminals do so with alarming frequency. The forms can be downloaded, and the information the fraudster needs to complete them can often be found online almost as quickly and easily: the names of permitted signatories, including a company director, secretary or administrator, can be found on many websites.
 
Registering the fraudulent changes with Companies House is a breeze because, because when these forms are submitted to make changes, it does not check any of the details for validity. Fortunately, businesses can take a few simple steps to protect themselves.
 

1) Check with Companies House that the details it holds are correct.

2) Sign up for Companies House electronic filing, and submit information online with an electronic password.

3) Subscribe to ‘Proof’, then notify Companies House that all future forms will be filed electronically, so paper ones will be rejected.

4) Sign up to Companies House ‘Monitor’ email alert system, and receive notifications about any future changes to your company details.

 
It is simple and inexpensive (e-filing is cheaper than paper filing), and infinitely preferable to dealing with the consequences of corporate identity theft.
 

If you would like to any further information please do not hesitate to contact us on 01536 713555.

more from General Information

Revised Treatment of VAT incurred on home computers
Revised Treatment of VAT incurred on home computers made available by employers to their employees
Artic Systems case - The Implications
“Artic Systems” may lead to changes in the taxation of family companies
Rates of interest on tax
On 5th July 2007 bank rate increased from 5.5 per cent to 5.75 per cent. This affects the rates of interest on unpaid tax and overpaid tax
Offshore Disclosure
The door has closed on the offshore disclosure initiative which allowed for a reduced penalty regime for those who voluntarily notified that items had been missed off tax returns by the deadline date of 22 June 2007.
Powering On
Revenue & Customs is continuing its update and, at times, radical overhaul of its existing powers.
New fuel advisory rates from 1st August 2007
HMRC announced on 27 June that the advisory fuel rates for company cars will increase from 1 August 2007
Jones v Garnett - House of Lords decision
The House of Lords has found in favour of Geoff Jones in the landmark case Jones v Garnett.
Anti Avoidance Expansion
Revenue & Customs has also announced the enlargement of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre – better known as JITSIC
Non-Residence pages on Returns
The latest self-assessment tax return (2006/07) contains a number of changes to the non-residence pages
Spotlight on Landlords
There has been a raft of press commentary about a planned Revenue & Customs crackdown on landlords
Revenue rethink
The government has tabled amendments to the new rules for charging penalties when taxpayers make errors in their tax returns
Jones v Garnett update
The ‘husband and wife’ case of Jones v Garnett has been heard at the House of Lords
When less is more
Data security issues could soon be a thing of the past
Proof positive
Corporate identity theft is a growing problem
IT system costs anger MP's
Revenue & Customs has been attacked by MP’s over the cost of an IT system that ended up costing nearly three times the agreed sum
Revenue unveils 'get tough' strategy
Revenue unveils 'get tough' strategy for tax cheats and vowed to adopt a 'no compromise' stance
Revenue poised to nab amnesty dodgers
Revenue & Customs is preparing to pursue around 40,000 individuals.
ICAEW spearheading move to protect term 'accountant'
The ICAEW is putting its full weight behind the campaign to get legal protection for the term 'accountant'.
Sage Line 50 Version 9
Sage has recently announced that they will be ceasing to support Version 9
Income Tax Rates
Government proposes to reduce the basic rate of income tax
VAT Fuel Scale Charges
HMRC intends to change significantly the VAT fuel scale charges payable by businesses
Directors' Liability - Personal Guarantees
Personal Guarantees
Jones v. Garnett
Jones v. Garnett - The House of Lords is about to consider the tricky question of whether dividends paid by a company
Declaring Cash on entering or leaving the UK
Declaring Cash on entering or leaving the UK
Offshore disclosure facility
Offshore disclosure facility
CFW Accountants

Northants Chamber of Commerce Member  ACCA  ICAEW
privacy statement - terms of use

CFW Accountants and Business Advisers