Business Identity Theft A Growing Concern
You've heard of identity theft — someone using a person's credit information or a Social Security number for ill-gotten gains. Well, experts say similar crimes are also affecting businesses.
Business identity theft involves posing as a legitimate business in order to get access to credit lines or steal customers. Experts believe that the practice has become more prevalent in the past two years.
"Business identity theft is incredibly underreported," says Hugh Thompson, who teaches at Columbia University and chairs an annual conference on security. No federal or state statistics track the problem. And Thompson says few victims are willing to report it.
"There's a big stigma attached with it," he says. "Imagine you're a company trying to portray an image of being solid and reliable out to your customers. It's not something that you want to readily admit to."
Business identity theft takes many forms. Posing as a look-alike or sound-alike business to lure customers is one of them. But in many cases, shady operators go after information to tap into business' credit and reputation. They change a business's contact information, for example, then use it to obtain credit cards or order goods, skipping town before bills arrive.
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