Identity thieves like money – but they like time almost as much.
As we frequently say at Company Alarm, identity thieves need time to make their mischief. Sure, with the online business portals states have established they can hijack companies in just a matter of minutes.
But hijacking is just the first step of their schemes. After they’ve taken control of your business they have to reach out to lenders or retailers and secure credit to receive unauthorized loans or make illicit purchases. And that takes time.
So, identity thieves are always looking for businesses that are not being watched closely by their owners. Their ideal targets are businesses that they can take over and the owner wouldn’t know for months or even years.
Which is why delinquent or dissolved businesses are so attractive to them.
Delinquent or dissolved
Online business portals, like the Nevada Secretary of State’s SilverFlume, don’t just list active businesses. They list companies that are out of business too – including businesses that have been shut down because the owner hasn’t paid the necessary registration fees (which are known as delinquent businesses) as well as businesses that have been shut down (which are known as dissolved businesses).
These businesses are like catnip to identity thieves because in almost all cases of such enterprises the owners are not thinking about them at all. I mean, why would they? If your business is no longer active, why would you ever worry about it? There’s no way a shuttered business could hurt you.
All the time in the world
If you’ve read Company Alarm’s educational materials for a while, you know that we’re frustrated with the states. In their efforts to make registering businesses easy, they’ve inadvertently made it easy for identity thieves to hijack businesses.
And that’s exactly the situation with delinquent and dissolved businesses.
You see, as part of these online business portals, states have included functions that allow business owners to quickly restart delinquent or dissolved businesses. You just have to file some forms and submit a fee and – wham – your inactive business is suddenly back to life.
Yes, this service is wonderful for legitimate business people who might have gotten behind on their registration paperwork or suddenly see a new use for an old company of theirs. But it’s also created an enormous opportunity for identity thieves.
Using just these business portals, identity thieves can search through a state’s list of inactive businesses – businesses, again, that the thieves can feel confident no one is watching. When they find one they want to hijack, they simply fill out a couple of forms, pay a fee and within minutes they’ve got control of a business that they are almost certain no one is monitoring.
Now they have all the time in the world to secure loans and make purchases on credit. Your credit, not theirs.
Your name will be on the loan
All of that is bad, of course, but that’s not even the worst of it. Remember, the whole goal of an identity thief is to make off with money and leave the legitimate owner of the business holding the bag.
Think about what this means in the case of an inactive business.
Identity thieves aren’t likely to put their own names on a reactivated business. They don’t have to! The legitimate owner or owners aren’t paying attention. They’re just going to impersonate the originally listed owner.
And that additional con will just make it harder on the legitimate owner when the bills come due.
As it is, creditors don’t truly understand business identity theft. Imagine how hard it's going to be to convince an angry creditor who wants his money that you didn’t seek a loan when your name is on the documents.
Company Alarm monitoring for inactive businesses
This is why we recommend Company Alarm’s 24-hour monitoring services not just for active businesses, but inactive ones too.
Just because your company is no longer in business doesn’t mean it isn’t a target for identity theft. Indeed, its inactive status might make it more attractive to cybercriminals.
We understand. Your business isn’t active any longer. Why would you want to spend money protecting its identity?
But you’re really not buying protection for your old business. You’re buying protection for yourself. You don’t want an identity thief assuming your identity in order to hijack your company. If that happens, you’re going to face an uphill battle proving to creditors that you shouldn’t be on the hook for huge dollar sums in credit or loan taken out by criminals.
If you find yourself in that situation, you’re already sunk – and you could be facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees defending yourself. Isn’t it much cheaper to pay $17.99 per month for the peace of mind that Company Alarm is watching your back?
Company Alarm is dedicated to helping business owners protect what they have worked so hard to build. Our monitoring software is designed to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting loopholes to hijack your company and assets. To sign up for this low-cost, value-added protection, click here.