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What is ‘corporate identity theft’ and how can you protect your business’s identity?

By March 28, 2023No Comments

Corporate identity theft (or business identity theft) is when a criminal impersonates a business to carry out fraudulent activity. Any business can fall victim to this type of theft and unfortunately the risk seems to be higher than ever.

The majority of businesses are now heavily reliant on technology, which provides a multitude of opportunities for cyber criminals. In fact, last year PwC surveyed various organisations from many different countries and found that 51% said they had experienced fraud in the last two years – that’s the highest recorded level in the company’s 20 years of research!

So with the need to be vigilant more important than ever, what are some of the ways you can protect yourself against corporate identity theft? And in what ways can it present itself?


Types of corporate identity theft

The methods that criminals use to steal and use your information varies greatly and evolves constantly, but their primary purpose is usually to deceive you, your employees, suppliers or customers into handing over sensitive information that they can then profit from. Any form of corporate identity theft can leave your company vulnerable to the repercussions, whether it impacts your finances, reputation or your relationship with your customers. Some of the most common examples of corporate identity theft are:


  1. Fake social media accounts

You’ll no doubt have come across this type of scam in one way or another. Small businesses are often targeted, with criminals setting up a duplicate social media account using the business’s logo, imagery and information to trick its customers into believing that the fake account is genuine. More often than not the fake account will contact customers claiming that they’ve won some sort of bogus competition!


  1. Total hijack of your company

This can occur when a criminal is able to change your company’s details, such as director names and registered office address, or they might trademark your company name or logo. Often they’ll then demand a ransom for its return! There are ways that you can help protect yourself from this type of takeover, take a look at the PROOF Scheme later in this blog


  1. Phishing emails

This is where the criminal sends emails out (either to your customers, suppliers or even to your employees), which are made to look like they’re a genuine business email. It’s been known for criminals to also send fake invoices with the intention of seeking payment from someone who thinks they’re settling their bill with you!

  1. Duplicate websites

Again this type of crime is where your publicly available information, such as your name, logo and website information, is stolen to create a duplicate website that misleads customers into thinking they have safely landed on your site. It will usually look extremely similar to the genuine website, making it difficult for the average person to notice the difference – unless you’re actively looking for it!


How can you protect your business from corporate identity theft?

Make sure your business is best protected from identity theft by making full use of the resources available. Here are some of the steps you can take to protect your business:

  • Take preventative action: What this looks like will depend on your business, but it could involve undertaking regular company checks, ensuring you take the time to educate your employees about being aware of suspicious activity or upgrading your security software.
  • Be as aware and as informed as possible: The police’s Little Book Of Big Scams is an excellent, comprehensive resource that covers lots of useful information, tips and strategies to help you remain as vigilant as possible.
  • Join the Companies House PROOF Scheme: This is a brilliant free service that enables you to better protect your company from a criminal trying to hijack your business by making unauthorised changes. You can find out more about this scheme and how to join it via the government website.
  • If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being a victim of identity theft – take action immediately! It’s imperative that you take immediate action as soon as you notice your business may have been compromised by reporting it to the relevant authorities. Action Fraud offers a 24/7 reporting service and has a wealth of useful information on its website.

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