Company directors face increasing risk of identity threat; LEGAL & FINANCE.
As a result, businesses using Companies House and credit ratings agencies have been warned to double-check information particularly when evaluating a prospective customer's creditworthiness.
The warning, from Henry Briggs, senior partner at the Birmingham office of accountants Haines Watts, follows claims that earlier this year the identity of a partner in one of the Big Four firms had been stolen in order to authenticate accounts filed at Companies House.
The story, in trade magazine Accountancy Age, has prompted a warning by Mr Briggs that the institution, used by thousands of businesses each day to verify information on customers and suppliers, may be less secure than previously thought.
"In addition to this instance, there have also been suggestions that false company accounts have been submitted at Companies House that could cause a business long-term damage," said Mr Briggs. "One credit rating agency believes that over a nine month period, nine auditors suffered identity theft in order to legitimise a false set of accounts whilst the same agency, Graydon, reckoned that 100 sets of accounts had been set up using completely fictitious auditor details. The vast majority of information stored at Companies House will be correct but identity theft is now such a problem that anyone using material from there, who spots anything outside what might be regarded as a normal pattern, would do well to double-check the details."