Warning Signs of Business Identity Theft

Catch the Warning Signs of Business Identity Theft 

Identity thieves don’t just go after individuals. The past several years have seen a dramatic increase in criminals aiming with bigger targets. By impersonating businesses, they drain accounts, open credit lines, and steal customer information. Thieves do this by pretending to be owners or employees and creating false credentials and business filings. They might also mimic company e-mail communications, websites, and more. 

If successful, business identity thieves can leave a company deep in debt, with legal and tax troubles, bad credit, and a ruined reputation. Luckily, there are ways to safeguard your business from such consequences. Many fall victims because they fail to recognize business identity theft’s red flags until the bills show up or law enforcement gets involved. By learning to spot the red flags of business identity theft on your own, you can prevent criminals from ever getting that far. Protect your finances and customers by recognizing the signs that you might be subject to corporate identity theft.

What are some warning signs of identity theft?

Early signs of corporate identity theft

Criminals often start with scams or by impersonating company higher-ups to collect information. By catching these phishes, you can prevent thieves from ever gathering enough material to steal your identity in the first place. Watch out for:

  • Seemingly official emails to owners or employees asking for account numbers, passwords and usernames, SSNs, and other business information
  • Bills and invoices for services you don’t use or items you did not purchase
  • Urgent requests for wire transfers from a CEO or higher up
  • Unverified credit applications

Later signs of business identity theft

The earlier you catch small business identity theft, the better. If a criminal has successfully begun to impersonate your business, you might experience:

  • A disruption in regular billing schedules
  • Charges or notices for new accounts that you didn’t make
  • The IRS rejects your tax return or claims that you have already filed an unfiled claim 
  • Strange IRS notices or transcripts
  • A notice from the Secretary of State Office that your official business address or that owner or manager names have been changed

How does identity theft affect businesses?

Business identity cloning can be devastating to a company, especially a small business with few reserves. The IRS reported in 2016 that the 4,000 reported business identity theft cases garnered a combined $268 million in costs. Beyond the initial cash loss, small business identity theft can also sink your credit score. It can upset supply chain payments and schedules, and get you in trouble with the IRS and state tax organizations. 

In the worst cases, you might lose all credibility with current and potential customers. When thieves steal customer information by impersonating your website or e-mails, it’s hard to regain trust. Business commercial identity theft can also result in personal identity theft for yourself and employees.

How can criminal identity theft occur?

The National Cyber Security Society names four ways that business identity theft occurs:

  • Financial fraud: Thieves use your business name and information to take out loans or open credit card accounts.
  • Trademark ransom: Criminals trademark your logo or name and charge high amounts for you to repurchase it.
  • Tax fraud: Impersonators file returns for your business, using your subsidies or stealing your returns.
  • Website or Identity Cloning: Thieves pretend to be your business online to steal customer information. 

Business ID theft protection

Comprehensive business ID theft protection involves preventative measures and continuous monitoring. Precautions like strong passwords and turning on charge and fraud alerts for your digital banking accounts can go a long way. You should also be cautious about which computers you use to log in to business accounts and access your information. Make sure you are running current anti-virus and security software on all company computers.

Still, because modern identity thieves have places like the dark web to hide, reliable monitoring is often out of a business’s scope. This is where services like Elevated Technology’s business identity theft monitoring come in. We scan the internet’s deepest pages to ensure your company’s information is not out there for sale. We predict criminal activity based on industry trends, to help ensure you stay guarded against future attacks. Our services have allowed businesses in the Houston area to catch business identity theft early.

Reporting business identity theft

If you find yourself a victim of corporate identity theft, act immediately to safeguard your accounts. Contact your bank and credit card company to let them know that you’ve been compromised. You should then notify the appropriate law enforcement and government agencies as soon as possible. Also, report the theft to credit reporting agencies.

Taking the first step: business identity theft monitoring

With such devastating consequences, the threat of business identity theft can loom large over owners. However, by watching for warning signs and taking business ID theft protection measures, you can keep the clones at bay. The experts at Elevated Technology are here to help Houston businesses do just that. Contact us today to take the first step with business identity theft monitoring.

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