Business ID theft occurs when thieves steal a business’ identity by gaining access to the business’ sensitive company information like, bank and credit card information, tax identification number (TIN), employer identification number (EIN), and the owners’ personal information. Thieves then pose as the owners, officers, or employees of the business to obtain by fraudulent means cash, credit, loans, products, and services.
Generally, thieves get away with their stolen cash and any other items quickly, and their criminal activities go unnoticed until it is too late. The business usually remains unaware of the crime until the bills and collection notices arrive at the victimized business. After discovering the crime, businesses invest valuable time and resources to repair their finances, restore their damaged credit and their destroyed reputation.
Examples of common business identity theft schemes and tactics that criminals use include:
The Secretary of State does not have statutory authority under state law to review, confirm, or investigate information presented during the business registration or filing process. Rather, its authority is limited to that of a “good faith” administrative filing function ensuring the basic requirements have been met. That is, the submitted documents include all the basic required information and are complete, and the statutory filing fees have been paid. If all these basic requirements have been met, the Secretary of State must accept the information filed for a business at face value and record it.
Help protect your business from identity theft by updating your business filings as soon as any of your business contact information changes. Be sure to confirm your business information on file with the Secretary of State is current at least once each year. Use our business organization search to receive real-time email alerts from the Secretary of State whenever changes are made to your business record by ensuring your email address on file is up-to-date. Some additional ways to protect your business identity are listed below.
If your business is a victim of business ID theft, respond quickly by taking necessary steps to minimize the damage and stop thieves from destroying your business.
Contact your local chamber of commerce to introduce a forum to educate the local small business community about the growing problem of business identity theft. Learn more about ongoing national efforts by visiting the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Business Identity Theft Task Force.
Contact the Business Division for further assistance regarding business identity theft resources.
If we may be of any further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us: 304.558.8000 toll free 866.767.8683 email: Business@wvsos.gov