Business Identity Theft Is a Big Threat to Small Business

Business identity theft is the business variation on personal identity theft–vital business information, such as your officer’s names and your federal tax employer identification number, are misappropriated (stolen, to be blunt).  And, business identity theft can be ridiculously easy to accomplish, by using information that is required to be made public and capitalizing on the secretary of state’s “good faith” rules of operation.

Business identity theft is not about “data breaches” per se, although data breaches can provide evil-doers with valuable information to exploit. (We covered that topic earlier in “Don’t Be the Target of a Data Breach.”) It’s also not “brand-jacking.” Brand-jacking is the exploitation of your online brand identity—and good name—for a variety of malicious reasons: to tarnish your reputation, to trick online viewers to ordering cut-rate goods that they think are your products, to steal information from job-seekers who believe they are applying for a job with you.  Brand-jacking can strike any size company and we are going to be focusing on how to protect yourself from that risk in a later blog post.

Corporations and LLCs are easy targets because much of the information the criminal needs is required to be publicly available on the secretary of state websites. Other information, such as EIN numbers are often available online or via a request with no checks and balances to determine there is a valid need for the disclosure. While some states, such as Colorado, Georgia, Ohio and Oregon, permit a business to sign-up for an electronic notification whenever business records are updated, many states do not have such a system. In most states, the business needs to affirmatively check its information.

Why does someone what to steal a corporation’s identity? Crooks want your business credentials for many of the same reasons you wanted to form your business. Operating as a corporation or LLC  makes it easier to obtain access to banking, credit cards with higher limits, and better terms with vendors.

It often works like this: the crook finds out the names of the corporate officers, the company’s EIN and other relevant information. Using that information, he (or she) opens a business credit card in the company’s name. The fraudster then orders thousands of dollars of merchandise that has high resale value (such as laptops) and has them delivered to a rented address. The criminal then moves on, reselling the equipment for a tidy profit and leaving the corporation with the bills and a badly tarnished credit rating. And, unlike the stop-loss protections attached to consumer credit cards, few business cards have similar features.

The bad guys get the needed information in a variety of ways, but many times they take advantage of the information and processes at the secretary of state’s offices. Their strategies include:

  • outright hijacking of the company by changing the corporate information with the secretary of state
  • re-instating inactive companies

It only takes a few minutes to update information with the secretary of state, such as officers names and addresses and the company’s registered agent, and using this false information to obtain a certificate of good standing. With that piece of paper, the crooks can gain control of access to banking and credit using your corporation’s name.

These actions often go unnoticed for the crimes that they are.

Why? The business owners aren’t paying attention and the actions appear innocuous to the secretaries of state. After all, a significant number of businesses legitimately change their officers, business locations or registered agents over the course of the year. Plus, in most states, the secretary of state’s role in the process is a ministerial one; the state simply accepts what is put on the forms “in good faith.”

There are actions that every small business should take—all of which involve being vigilant in monitoring and protecting your business identity as rigorously as you seek to protect your personal identifying information. Next week, we will cover those actions in detail. But, for a preview, you can download CT’s checklist of nine actions that you should take to protect yourself.

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Protect Your UCC Priority with ABCs of Post-Closing Due Diligence

After funding a deal and filing a UCC Financing Statement, it’s critical  to keep an eye out for post-closing events that could jeopardize your ability collect. CLASCORP™ suggests following the ABCs of post-closing due diligence to protect your priority for the life of your loan.

A – Always Perform a Search to Reflect

A search to reflect is a great way to catch UCC filing mistakes before it’s too late. Sometimes referred to as a post-filing verification search, the value of a search to reflect is twofold. First, the search will confirm that the filing office made no errors when indexing your document and second, it will verify your lien position relative to other creditors.

 B – Be Mindful of Changes in the Public Record
It is important to monitor for changes in the public record that could affect your position to collect. Debtor monitoring programs perform regularly scheduled UCC and/or corporate database searches and alert you to any important changes such as unauthorized terminations, new UCC or tax lien filings, changes in corporate status, mergers, name changes, etc.
C – Carefully Track UCC Lapse Dates
To maintain a healthy UCC portfolio you must carefully track UCC lapse dates and file timely Continuation Statements when a debtor’s financial obligation extends beyond five years. It is important to manage this process meticulously, a lapsed UCC filing ceases to be effective and can open the door for a junior creditor to move into a first-priority position.
From easy-to-order online searches to reflect, to low-cost UCC and Corporate monitoring and automated Continuation Alerts, CLASCORP™ offers a full suite of post-closing solutions to help you preserve your priority position and minimize your risk for loss. Contact CLASCORP™ today for a free consultation! 800.737.8012 |

Mailing of Delaware LLC, LP and GP Tax Notices Delayed

Due to the Delaware Division of Corporations’ implementation of a new computer system, mailing was delayed for their 2015 tax notices for Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), Limited Partnerships (LPs) and General Partnerships (GPs). Traditionally sent at the end of February, 2015 tax notices are scheduled to be mailed the week of March 21, 2016.

Despite the late mailing of tax notices, all domestic and foreign LLCs, LPs and GPs must pay their Annual Taxes on or before June 1, 2016 to avoid penalties and a loss of good standing in the state of Delaware.

Finding it difficult to manage all of the annual compliance requirements for your entities? Sign up for Annual Report Management through CLASCORP™! We will monitor all state requirements, track filing deadlines and prepare and submit the appropriate forms and/or fees on time, every time.

Contact CLASCORP™ today for a free consultation 800.737.8012 |

The Art of Customer Service

Cheryl Westby_croppedHere at CLASCORP™, we believe your corporate services company should rock.

Rock ([rok]; verb):  1. To be exceptional; 2. To go above and beyond what is expected; 3. To establish a long lasting relationship; 4. To add remarkable value; 5. To provide service that leaves a positive lasting impression.  Commonly used phrase:  “You Rock!”

CLASCORP™ provides worldwide due diligence solutions to clients who demand a Corporate Service team that Rocks! Client Relations Manager, Cheryl Westby is driven by providing exceptional customer service.

Cheryl says, “The most rewarding thing about my job is developing a personal relationship with our clients and working with our clients’ to provide them with the best service and value”.  She thrives to provide the best customer service in the industry.

How does she do it?  Cheryl brings a depth of experience in working with clients for more than 20 years.  She cares about our clients and their needs.  She understands and listens to our clients  and communicates with our teams to personalize our service and provide our clients with an exceptional experience.  

It’s not just fulfilling a request.  Cheryl goes beyond learning everything about a clients’ business needs.  She genuinely cares and gets to know all of our clients, creating and spreading this culture throughout our entire team.  

She smiles through the phone and clients feel it. Cheryl is our CLASCORP™ Customer Relations Superhero!