More than a false alarm

Fraud is like a moving target that’s hard to nail. And when a company becomes
the victim of fraud, there are unfortunately no quick fixes.

But we are expanding our e-services by expanding the type of accounts we can
accept electronically, and have also developed additional security for
administrative documents for public companies.

Our work is based on the added security and the speed we can provide with
electronic services. It is also based on a co-operative approach to helping
companies protect themselves against attempts to commit fraud.

About 80% of Companies House documents can be filed electronically, and false
filing is an area that illustrates clearly the benefits of doing this.
Put in context, the incidence of false filing may not seem high. Out of 600,000
documents filed each month, about 50 may be linked to fraud. While that might
not seem like a massive figure, the reality is that an individual instance of
fraud can have a devastating effect on a company. Fraud is an issue that needs
to be taken seriously.

The key issue for Companies House is that we operate within a statutory
framework that requires us to accept documents in good faith, and to register
them and make them available to the public.

We operate on the basis of recovering the cost of each service we provide
individually. Checking the bona fides of every document we receive would be
expensive and would add to the already great regulatory burden on business.

We have to look elsewhere for solutions and work closely with others in
government and business. We have established a police liaison officer role at
Companies House and have developed a three-point plan that helps companies to
protect themselves against fraud.

1. Electronic filing: Companies filing electronically
benefit from the security that allows us to identify the source of
electronically filed information.

2. PROOF (Protected Online Filing): Companies instruct us to
accept only documents submitted electronically. We query any paper documents
that are submitted.

3. Monitor: This service notifies a company each time a
document is filed on its record. The company can take action in cases of false
To combat fraud successfully, we need companies to take advantage of the
measures we are introducing.

Tim Moss is director of corporate strategy at Companies

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