Did you know that company directors are twice as likely to be victims of ID fraud than anyone else. It’s easy to see why when you consider just how easy it is for someone to commit fraud against your company.
Companies House, the UK’s registrar of companies, will happily accept documents submitted via post ‘on good faith’. This means any person can simply complete a form with a fake signature and make changes to your business without your consent or knowledge. This includes:-
- Change your company’s registered office
- Resign current directors and appoint new ones
- File closure documents
Companies house states:-
We carry out basic checks to make sure that the documents have been fully completed and signed, but we do not have the statutory power or capability to verify the accuracy of the information that corporate entities send to us.
We accept all information that such entities deliver to us in good faith and place it on the public record.
Take a look at these worrying articles.
- Why is Companies House helping fraudsters by making it so easy to set up a firm?
- Companies House failed to probe bosses with names like ‘Adolf Tooth Fairy Hitler’
- I lost £34,000 after fraudsters convinced me their business was real as it was registered on Companies House
- Companies House under fire as fake firms get seal of approval for just £12
- Companies house is a playground for criminals
In order to avoid such issues, it is highly recommended to sign up for the protected online filing services (PROOF), and make sure you use a secure password manager to store your login details.
This free service lets you protect your company from unauthorised changes to your records. It prevents the filing of certain paper forms, including:
- changes to your registered office address
- changes to your officers (appointments, resignations or personal details)
- changes to your company name by special resolution
It’s important that your company’s records are correct because they’re sometimes used to check its legitimacy if you apply for a loan.
Fraudsters are known to hijack a company by changing the details of the company’s directors and registered office. This leaves the company vulnerable to further fraud.
Companies House deals with around 50 to 100 cases of corporate identity theft every month. If you suspect fraudulent activity against a company you should report this to Companies House and the police.
What companies house can do
Companies house can only assist with issues that involve forms being filed at Companies House, so you should get in touch with them if you have concerns that:
- a registered office has been changed without the company’s knowledge or consent
- an individual has been appointed as an officer without their knowledge or consent
- a company name has been changed without permission
- an unauthorised address is being used for a registered office or officer’s service address
If these situations apply, you’ll need to email [email protected] with as much information as possible – including your own contact details – and they will ensure this is investigated.
What they cannot do
It often surprises people but Companies House does not have any investigatory powers, and what they are able to do or not is largely determined by the Companies Act 2006. It seems they get quite a few enquiries from people asking them to investigate companies but it’s not something they are able to do.
Any allegations of fraudulent activity should always be reported directly to the police. That said, they say that they do work closely with various law enforcement authorities, providing them with information on a request basis, and do have dedicated colleagues who are able to assist with this.
Fraud Protection Service
Combat company fraud by receiving an email alert whenever a change is made to your business, whether this was with your consent or not.
Any changes made to your company (those mentioned above, and more) will be monitored and you will be sent an email notification whenever any changes are detected. You can then act swiftly to ensure no permanent damage is done.