All businesses from sole traders through to large corporations have an
identity and that identity can be abused by fraudsters.
Think about the relationships that your business has with its own ecosystem
of suppliers, customers, credit card companies, banks, regulators, and so on.
Then ask yourself how all these people know that they are dealing with your
company and not an impostor.
Suppliers will often authenticate customers by checking the delivery address
of an order against the business address registered at Companies House. But to
assume that this alone proves that goods or services have been ordered by a bona
fide customer is mistaken: it is perfectly possible to change a registered
address without any checks being made.
When a business applies for a company credit card, a lender will demand
documentary proof that the business is what it claims to be, but what good is
that when fake documents can be bought over the web?
Business identity is under attack from all angles but according to a survey
by the CPP Group 87% of companies do not have a strategy in place to deal with
The consequences of falling victim to identity theft can be catastrophic.
Imagine a situation where suppliers won’t let you buy on credit, you can’t
withdraw money from your business account, or customers no longer trust you to
deliver their purchase. How long could your business function in such an
environment before you were forced to close the doors?
The sad truth is that this isn’t some vision of the future; it is happening
to businesses today. Businesses cannot afford to ignore the issue in the hope it
will go away. As long as businesses fail to take adequate precautions to protect
themselves, then fraudsters will be attracted to this crime.
Equally, if businesses fail to put in place a structure to deal with the
consequences of identity theft, they risk being flung into a maelstrom of
suppliers, customers and banks demanding that they pay for goods or services
they never ordered and supply goods or services they were never paid for.
We must all take responsibility for identity theft. We must protect the
identity of our business, be that bank details, company registration information
or details of directors. And we must demand that third parties we trust with
this information guard it as zealously as if it were their own.
Owen Roberts is head of identity protection at CPP Group
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