The advent of mobile computing has provided fertile ground for identity theft, but companies can take precautions to help limit the damage. Eddie Pacey offers some tips
Identity theft has been much in the news lately, as has cardholder not present fraud. Many distributors have tightened processes to deflect approaches or limit impact, so fraudsters are moving to fresher fields within the reseller community.
Here controls are much less evident, and resellers are ill-prepared to deal with approaches. Few have experienced the problem first-hand or seen the level of sophistication.
In the old days, when memory was worth more per ounce than gold, ram raids, hijacks and burglaries were commonplace. But this is now old hat and far too risky for the criminal.
Fraud has been helped by the advent of laptops and other portable devices, as well as mobile telephony and connectivity. The encroaching maturity of the IT, telecoms and consumer electronics sectors, and the ease of online applications and order placement, provide fertile ground for fraudsters.
Levels of credit card fraud are mind-boggling, and Joe Public faces the cost associated with this in high credit card interest charges. Banks, of course, are still laughing.
Sheer embarrassment at being conned is so acute that many would rather just write things off without admission or mention. This is an understandable reaction, but criminal where no measured process is formalised to counter a repeat.
The old dodge of paying for products with stolen cheques or bankers drafts still works, despite the fact that simple checks can eliminate it.
A year ago I coined the phrase “Company Hijack” to describe a noted trend in company takeover that was merely an asset-stripping exercise; a move designed to take over a business with earned historical credibility and rating and move assets abroad prior to sudden collapse and failure.
This has since extended to simple pinching of identity and amendment of Companies House data. There is absolutely nothing to stop someone getting hold of a formal set of results, amending details and filing the same results as those of another company.
There are cases where director resignation and appointment are fictional, and where a registered office address is amended without the target company knowing a thing about it. This creates data and the provision of a rating and, in turn, opens credit terms.
Companies House is responding, but measures are slow and not comprehensive. This gives rise to new products and services from traditional business information providers that warn of unusual movements and changes to Companies House data.
An application a while ago gave the applicant as one of the North’s leading power companies. Applicant’s title was management director (sic) and his email address was an AOL one; clearly not sophisticated but a bold and irritating attempt nonetheless that could easily have paid off elsewhere.
Time spent at the front end will save considerable pain, loss and embarrassment and need not inconvenience customer service or satisfaction.
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