Understanding Business Identity Theft
Identity theft isn’t just for individuals. Businesses can fall victim, too.
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’s identity by gaining access to the business’s bank accounts and credit cards or by stealing sensitive company information, such as the tax identification number (TIN) or the owners’ personal information.
Thieves may then open up lines of credit or get business loans based on the business’s 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 mess the business must spend time and money cleaning up.
Help Prevent and Detect Business Identity Theft
Protect sensitive company information as carefully as you would sensitive personal information. Start with periodic reviews of business records, which helps ensure no fraudulent or mistaken business entity filings have been made.
Keep your company records on file with your Secretary of State accurate and up–to–date. As soon as your business contact information changes, update your business filings. At a minimum, check your business filings with the Secretary of State’s office at least once a year.
What to Do if You Have Been Victimized
- Immediately notify local law enforcement authorities of any unauthorized changes to filings or registrations and obtain a police report.
- 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 your Secretary of State's office. The certified copy of the wrong filing may be used as evidence in court.
- Correct the unauthorized change to your entity’s corporate registration on the Secretary of State’s registry.
- Contact the Bureau of Investigation for any state where unauthorized use of your business’s identity was perpetrated.
- Immediately contact your bank(s) and credit card provider(s) and report the theft.
- Compare your Employer Identification Number (EIN) or TIN with the EIN/TIN of the hijacked business and report any differences to the credit reporting agencies.
- Contact your business creditors and billing companies and notify them of the criminal activity perpetrated in the name of your business.
- Contact creditors where the fraudulent accounts were opened and request copies of all documentation used to open or access the account(s).
- Maintain detailed records of all actions you take so you can create a paper trail, as this will be useful in the event your credit needs to be repaired.
Staying vigilant is the best way to help protect the bank and you, our business customers, from potential fraud. If you suspect fraudulent activity has occurred, immediately contact Cadence Bank to report it.
To learn more about how to deal with fraud and identity theft, visit the Cadence Fraud & Security Center.
This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.