News & Resources

Businesses worry about identity

Mar 26, 2012 Karen Umpierre

While identity theft is something that many American citizens know how to guard against, the lesser-known trend of corporate identity theft is something that most companies are still fairly unaware of and don't know how to guard against. Most instances of corporate fraud occur when a thief uses a business' image or name and claims that they are affiliated with the real company. They can then scam customers into paying for goods or services that the real business does not actually offer beforehand. This situation occurred in Tucson, Arizona, to a company that assists customers with moving animals. The owner, according to the Arizona Daily Star, realized her business' identity had been stolen upon discovering that an identity thief copied her website and was convincing customers to pay to adopt pets. Lenders want to be aware of this sort of crime to prevent loaning money to a company that doesn't actually exist, which could result in devastating commercial credit report scores for the firms suffering from a stolen identity. Thorough background checks conducted by lenders may be a good practice, as oftentimes the contact numbers or addresses listed on the fake company's website are not valid. NPR published an article about a Memphis, Tennessee company who found three separate listings in a local phonebook for their business, and the two false addresses led to a vacant lot and a gas station. Identity protection group Shred-it released a few pointers in honor of Fraud Prevention Month. They suggested that one of the most important things for employees and owners to be aware of is that fraud doesn't always occur in office settings. The source also listed restaurants, hotels, the cloud and anywhere documents could land after falling out of pockets or briefcases as danger zones for corporate fraud. Shred-it explained that even when important business documents are thrown away, for example in a hotel room or conference area, should papers with identifying data be visible, that could spell trouble for the company. Restaurants, too, are a risky place, because information about expense accounts could be left behind if receipts are not properly stored away. Because this is still a developing mode to steal identities, there are still not a lot of regulations and laws dealing with this type of problem. The Arizona Star detailed that because it is such a fledgling crime, many thieves are getting away with it by moving their operations to other cities or nations, where it can be hard to locate them.