Companies House Clamp Down On Corporate Id Theft

Posted: Monday, 1 March 2010 @ 14:42
In the wake of anti-terrorism and laundering initiatives and in response to the growth of cyber crime, Companies House is attempting to help company directors bolster their protective armoury.

Two initiatives should be of interest to any company that wishes to protect itself against company hijacking whereby control is wrestled away from the rightful directors to third parties illegally.

If you register for Companies House Direct you can, by using the Monitor Service, receive updates on when key company information has been changed and thus can receive news of legal and illegal changes to the existing information deposited. The system is flexible and inexpensive putting you at control of monitoring your official company records.

A more proactive approach is found by the Anti-Hijacking Service. This service has been introduced to prevent fraudsters from changing details of the company’s directors and registered office and from then using the company to order goods or services on credit, which they sell, but never pay for. With the company left to sort out the aftermath, including correcting its public record.

The limits of Companies House’s powers are made clear as it admits that, as a department of the DTI, it cannot prevent hijacking. It does not have the power to investigate the content and accuracy of forms sent to them for filing-which often occurs when one set of disgruntled employees or trustees tries to “sack” the board-illegally.
The recent developments of electronic filing systems may improve security for companies. Both the ‘WebFiling’ and ‘Electronic Filing’ services have security protection by using passwords, confidential authentication codes, and recognised email addresses. More information of both is available here: WebFiling and Electronic Filing services.

Online Scams

It seems nothing is sacred in terms of online fraud. Most people are wise to the regular emails that come supposedly from banks asking people to confirm their username and password. But it seems now Paypal (supposedly the bastion of secure online payments) are suffering the same fate. Emails are now doing the rounds which are ostensibly from Paypal asking for acknowledgement of password and login name. The problem with such emails are that like counterfeit money many appear genuine and with increasing sophistication are becoming harder and harder to detect. Commonsense caution pays dividends under these circumstances.

Identity Theft – Expats Watch Out

An identity theft scam, potentially affecting expats has recently come to light. The con is believed to emanate from Nigeria and all expats working in the UK are urged to be vigilant.

Often, expatriates working in the UK will be asked by HM Revenue and Customs to complete a form P86 “Arrival in the United Kingdom”. This is intended to assist in determining the individual's status for tax purposes so as to avoid double taxation between the UK and their “home” country. The form asks for various family and personal details, together with information about the purpose of the visit, previous visits, intended length and frequency of future visits, the accommodation available and sources of income.

It is understood that fake P86 forms have been sent to some expatriates currently working in the UK. These (unlike the genuine forms) ask for personal bank account and sort code details, and are thought to be part of an attempt to obtain information for use in identity theft or other frauds. Usually they are accompanied by a letter stating that if they are not completed it will be necessary for income tax to be deducted from savings income currently paid gross. The recipient is requested to return the form to an address in Cheltenham, from where it is reported that they are forwarded to Nigeria. (Clearly, now that the fraud has been detected the address might well be changed.)

If forms are received that are not in the official format shown on the HM Revenue and Customs website, or that otherwise give cause for suspicion, we suggest that employees should not complete them but that they should report the matter to the police.

Contact Cousins Business Law for advice on this topic.

For free advice on this topic please call us on 0845 003 5639.

Blog by Sue Mann
Sue is an experienced commercial solicitor based in Birmingham from where she helps businesses all over the country advising on, drafting, and reviewing business contracts and commercial agreements. View profile
Call Sue on +44 (0)121 246 4437 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.


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