Having formed a limited company you will probably get on with making your business a success. However you have probably not considered the potential for your company to be hijacked. Without your knowledge an individual may steal the identity of your company and begin to open bank accounts and enter into fraudulent contracts. A few simple steps can help to prevent this from occurring.
The UK registry at Companies House provides a useful service for limited companies. In addition to incorporating and dissolving companies they also maintain the national register. This involves the recording and storing of data relating to all UK incorporated companies and LLP’s. Historically most records were updated by the submission of manual forms. This would include the submission of company accounts, change of address forms and forms appointing new company officers as well as many other documents. Whilst this system has served a purpose for many years it is far from secure as signatures are not checked and changes are implemented without further checks.
Identity fraud has increased over recent years, which meant that the previous system at Companies House was open to serious abuse. Companies have found their records have been updated without their knowledge. Individuals can masquerade as company officers, open bank accounts and enter into fraudulent contacts. It has been too easy for too long for businesses to be deceived and for companies to be hijacked
However, Companies House has now introduced some basic protective measures that limited companies in the UK can adopt. Firstly they have introduced ‘WebFiling’. This is an electronic online filing system. It allows companies to make changes to their company details online. Instead of posting forms to Companies House changes can now be made in minutes online. To increase security there are two simple security procedures used. A security ‘authentication code’ is issued for each company and users require a security code to access the software.
The second security improvement is that users can sign up for Companies House ‘PROOF’ service. This means that they will no longer accept manual paper forms to make changes to your company records. This stops the opportunist from simply completing forms and posting them to Companies House. Any paper forms will require further authorisation from existing officers.
Whilst these two points should reduce identity theft companies can also ‘monitor’ their companies filing. This does not literally require daily monitoring of Companies House. For a small fee of £0.50 per annum Companies House will inform you by email every time a document if filed at Companies House for your company. This includes manual and electronic filing. This means that you can double check all changes made to your company without leaving your desk.
These three simple to implement measures should help protect the future identity of your limited company. Not only will you have piece of mind but you will save your company time and money by filing online.