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May 28, 2012

Identity theft of a business - it does happen!

Everybody who hasn't been living under a rock has heard of the theft of an individual's identity and the havoc that can cause. But what most people don't realize is that identity thieves can also steal the identity of a business.

Business identity thieves accomplish their crime by altering the business records filed with a state government to impersonate companies with good financial histories. Using altered documents, the business identity thieves apply for lines of credit in the name of the business and then, of course, do not repay the loans. This leaves the business stuck with the debt and the black mark on the reputation of the business. Also, the Fair Credit Reporting Act only applies to consumer reports, so it provides no help to the business victim.

How does a business protect itself? Same as a consumer - be vigilant and diligent. Businesses should check their online filings regularly to make sure no alteration has occurred. Some secretary of state offices provide for e-mail alerts when changes are made so be sure to sign up for this service if available in your state. Also, be sure to monitor records of even inactive businesses, since those are prime targets due to the increased chance of the crime going undiscovered for a longer period of time.

Also, monitor your bills, accounts and bank statements for anything unusual. If you spot any unauthorized changes to your business records, report it to your secretary of state immediately.

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