Business Identity Theft: How Do Criminals Go About Doing It? And How Do Businesses Recover from It?

Did you know individuals aren’t the only ones susceptible to identity theft? Criminals can also steal information from companies and commit what is referred to as “business identity theft.” This is similar to individual identity theft, but includes some key nuances. Here’s what you need to know.

What it is

Business identity theft occurs when criminals steal sensitive information from a company. This might include tax or credit card information, Social Security numbers, contact information or other private data belonging to the company or its customers.

The criminals then use that information to take out loans in the business’s name or open up other types of illegitimate accounts. For example, they may open a credit card and charge significant amounts under the company’s name. The hackers might also hold the company’s data hostage and demand a ransom to release it.

How it happens

Criminals often commit business identity theft by hacking a business data system and stealing sensitive information. They may also try phishing techniques to get employees to release this information. Unwittingly, the employees allow hackers access to data that allows the criminals to commit business identity theft.

How to recover

If you experience business identity theft, take the following steps to recover from this serious crime. If you notice signs that someone is trying to commit this crime and act quickly, you may be able to save your company from significant loss and hassle. Even if you don’t catch it early, it is important to take the necessary steps to recover from this attack. Here’s what to do:

  • Fraud alert: Place a fraud alert on your credit. Notify the three credit reporting companies, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax, that you suspect fraud on your accounts. Once they are on alert, these companies will make it more difficult to open accounts under your business name, to prevent fraudulent attempts. This alert will stay active for 90 days, so be sure to renew it if needed.
  • Credit reports: After placing the fraud alert, order a free copy of your credit report from each of the reporting companies. Carefully look these reports over to check for any fraudulent activity. If there are any unauthorized charges or accounts in the reports, notify the credit reporting company and anyone else involved to report the error.
  • Identity theft report: Create an identity theft report. This will provide helpful information as you deal with the various companies and accounts. This report will place an extended fraud alert on your credit and is part of the process of removing fraudulent information from your credit report.
  • Monitoring: Remain vigilant with monitoring your credit reports and accounts. This will help you detect any suspicious activity right away. Additionally, as you work through clearing up the identity theft, document everything. Save emails and documents and log any phone calls you make regarding the fraud.

Need help with business identity theft?

If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you may need specialists to help sift through the paperwork and clear your credit. Medina & Company Consulting is a forensic accounting firm that specializes in serving businesses with exposure. Contact us today for expert assistance with business identity theft.