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Your Legal Corner - Client Alert Blog

Small Business ID Theft – Check Your Company’s Credit Report!

Written By: Melissa C. Marsh, Esq., California Attorney, November 2009 Add to Favorites
Although the overwhelming majority of identity theft schemes involve personal identification, identity thieves are beginning to target businesses and organizations. Identity thieves have begun to realize that many small and medium sized businesses have credit lines, cash reserves, and extensive business relationships. More importantly, they have taken note that the authorities are less apt to fully investigate identity theft that involves a business as opposed to an individual.

One business to business fraud scheme used by identity theft thieves is the use of a shell company. This scheme involves purchasing goods from a medium sized well known business and having the goods shipped to a registered business that has been in existence for a long period of time, but dormant for many years. After the goods shipped, when the seller calls to confirm receipt, the seller will learn that the phone, fax, and e-mail address provided no longer exist. The invoice goes unpaid.

Another common scheme frequently employed in California involves renting out office space in the target’s building, assuming the name of the target business, applying for and receiving corporate credit cards in the target business’ name and then using those corporate cards to purchase everything from technology products to personal items. A similar method involves ordering the corporate credit cards, vanishing, and then selling the acquired cards on the street.

Identity thieves are increasingly targeting businesses because the police are less likely to pursue the thief when there is no individual victim and when a personal social security number is not involved.

What Businesses Can Do To Protect Themselves:

  1. Protect Sensitive Information. Keep sensitive information in either a password protected electronic file (offline), or in a locked file drawer and restrict access to such information;
  2. Shred ALL business records before tossing them in the trash. Anything with your name, business name and address, or the name or address of any of your vendors and suppliers should be shred;
  3. Carefully scrutinize anyone asking for business related information over the phone;
  4. Immediately disconnect terminated employees and independent contractors from your computer network;
  5. Check your company’s credit report regularly; and
  6. If your business is targeted, thoroughly investigate the matter yourself and bring your findings and leads to the police. Do not leave it to the police.

Tags: identity theft
Posted In: Business Law Bulletin  Corporate Client Bulletin 

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Disclaimer: The information presented on this web site was prepared by Melissa C. Marsh for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information provided in my articles and alerts should not be relied upon, or used as a substitute for professional legal advice from an attorney you retain to advise or represent you. Your use of this Internet site does not create an attorney- client relationship. Transmission of this article is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. All uses of the contents of this site, other than personal uses, are prohibited. You may print or email a copy of any information posted on this web site for your own personal, non-commercial, use, but you may not publish any of the articles or posts on this web site without the Express Written Permission of Melissa C. Marsh.

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Located in Los Angeles, California, the Law Office of Melissa C. Marsh handles business law and corporation law matters as a lawyer for clients throughout Los Angeles including Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Hollywood, West LA as well as Riverside County, San Fernando, Ventura County, and Santa Clarita. Attorney Melissa C. Marsh has considerable experience handling business matters both nationally and internationally. We routinely assist our clients with incorporation, forming a California corporation, forming a California llc, partnership, annual minutes, shareholder meetings, director meetings, getting a taxpayer ID number (EIN), buying a business, selling a business, commercial lease review, employee disputes, independent contractors, construction, and personal matters such as preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and more.