Secretary of State Business Identity Theft Resources

What is Business Identity Theft?

Business identity theft happens when criminals pose as owners, officers or employees of a business to illegally get cash, credit, and loans, leaving the victimized business with the debts.  Identity thieves can steal a business’ identity by gaining access to the business’ bank accounts and credit cards or by stealing sensitive company information, such as the tax identification number (TIN) and the owners’ personal information.  The thieves then open up lines of credit or get business loans based on the business’ identity and creditworthiness.  Typically, thieves cash out quickly and go unnoticed until the bills and collection notices arrive at the door of the victimized business, leaving behind debts, damaged credit and a destroyed reputation.

Once the scheme is uncovered, businesses spend valuable time and resources to repair the harm to their finances, their credit profile, and their reputation.

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What Are Some Common Business Identity Theft Schemes?

Examples of business identity theft include a variety of schemes involving the fraudulent use of company’s information, including:

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How Can You Prevent Business Identity Theft?

To protect your business from identity theft, update your business filings as soon as any of your business contact information changes and check your business’ filings with the Secretary of State’s office at least once a year. Our office provides online search features that make it easy to check and verify that your company records on file are accurate and up–to–date. You should immediately notify your local law enforcement authorities of any unauthorized changes and update your Secretary of State business filings with the correct information. Be sure to get a certified copy of the fraudulent filing before updating your filings with the Secretary of State’s office. The certified copy of the wrong filing may be used as evidence in court. Other preventative steps include:

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What Should You Do If You Become A Victim of Business Identity Theft?

If you believe your company has become a business identity theft victim, moving quickly could reduce the amount of damage your company suffers.  The first things you should do are:

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Local, State, and National Efforts

Consider reaching out to your local chamber of commerce and suggesting a forum to educate your local small business community about the growing problem of business identity theft. State and national efforts are underway:

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Other Resources

Here are some key state and federal agencies that may be able to help you as well if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being a business identity theft victim:

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Business Entities (BE)

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