Police crack down on identity theft in business

The Metropolitan Police and Companies House this week gave fresh impetus to attempts to prevent fraud, announcing an initiative to stop fraudsters hijacking accountants’ identities.

Accountancy Age revealed last month that accountants’ identities were being stolen by fraudsters to legitimise bogus company accounts and obtain credit.

Fraudsters who take on the identity of companies and trade under a legitimate companies’ credit and name are thought to have cost industry £50m a year, the Met said.

In response to growing concerns, Scotland Yard this week released guidance for businesses advising them of steps they could take to prevent their identities being usurped.

Companies should check that their registered details are correct at Companies House and that they have not been fraudulently changed, the Met advised. They should file online with an electronic password and subscribe to PROOF, the protected online filing service that aims to reduce the possibility of fraud.

The Met also advised subscribing to the Companies House ‘Monitor’, an email alert that gives warning when any changes to company details are made.

The Met also said businesses should not rely on Companies House records when determining whether to issue goods on credit.

The advice has come as part of the ‘Sterling’ initiative, launched jointly by Companies House and the Met in February, which is designed to reduce economic crime.

Assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said: ‘This initiative will have a significant impact by providing a method to prevent company identity fraud and protect business.’

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