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Victim Assistance

Business Identity Theft Victim Assistance

Business Identity Theft Victim Action List

Immediate actions to take if you are a victim of business identity theft

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Victim action list

If your business is a victim of business ID theft, you need to take quick actions to minimize the damage and stop thieves from devastating your business.

Every case is different, so not every action listed here may apply to your situation. Some states have specific reporting procedures, so be certain to also review the resource page for your state or territory.

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✔  Protect Your Business' Existing Accounts

•  Protect your cash accounts - Immediately notify your bank's fraud department

Your business' cash accounts are the most vulnerable and should be your first priority. Under the Uniform Commercial Code, businesses and commercial banking customers have shorter reporting timeframes and increased potential liability for account takeover and fraudulent transactions, so immediate reporting is critical to help minimize your potential fraud losses.1

Fraudulent Wire Transfers and ACH Transactions - Wire transfers and ACH transactions occur quickly, and thieves and money mules are prepared to immediately withdraw the stolen funds as soon as the transactions are completed. Because of this, your business must notify your financial institution's fraud department immediately upon discovery.

Depending on the amount of time that has elapsed before it is notified, and individual bank policies, your bank may be able to stop or reverse fraudulent transactions and recover stolen funds. However, be aware that traditional consumer protections do not apply to your business accounts, and there is no guarantee that the financial institution will be able to recover any of the stolen funds.

Your bank(s) will help you to close the affected accounts, open new accounts, change passwords and online banking credentials, and also re-issue checks and/or payment cards. Be aware that account closure will impact any automatic payments you may have established, so you will need to notify affected creditors and use an alternative payment method until the automatic payments can be re-established in your new account(s).

•  Notify your credit card companies

Contact the fraud departments of each of your credit card companies for any accounts that have been compromised, or that you suspect may have been compromised. Your credit card company will cancel the card(s) and/or close the account(s) and re-issue new cards for your business. If you are aware of any fraudulent transactions that have already occurred, you should provide that information when you call. The fraud department representative should also review recent transactions with you to identify any other fraudulent transactions.

•  Notify the check verification companies

If thieves have committed check fraud in your business' name, or fraud involving your business' checking account, (such as using stolen, altered, or forged checks - or even just your business name and information), your business may be reported to the check verification companies used by merchants and financial institutions. Inclusion in these databases can cause your business to be denied check writing and/or checking account privileges.

Note: In some cases, your business' own financial institution may provide notice to the check verification companies. You should confirm that such reporting clearly indicates that your business was a victim of check fraud, and properly reflects that the reported activity was not the result of an action(s) by you or your business.

The major national and regional check verification companies allow check fraud victims to report the fraud in order to prevent themselves from being incorrectly included in their databases. Each company has its own forms and procedures for accepting check fraud reports.

Victimized businesses that suspect but are uncertain if any check fraud has occurred in their business name can contact the check verification companies to inquire if any reports have been filed about their business.

                 ChexSystems   (800) 428-9623         TeleCheck (First Data)  (800) 710-9898 
  CrossCheck (800) 843-0760    SCAN  (800) 262-7771 
  Equifax  (800) 437-5120    International Check Services   (800) 631-9656 

•  Notify your key suppliers and other creditors

You can't afford to allow thieves to damage your important business relationships, particularly those key suppliers and other creditors upon whom your business relies.

In addition to notifications to any suppliers or creditors directly affected by the fraud, you may want to advise other key organizations what has happened, and request increased account security. It may also be advisable to instruct that all orders placed in your business' name, as well as all requests for account information, be verified by a designated business principal or key employee before proceeding.

✔  Notify the Appropriate Government Agencies

•  Report business identity theft to your local law enforcement agency for criminal investigation

Be certain to obtain a case number, as it is likely to be requested by your financial institutions and creditors. Carefully follow the officer's or detective's instructions.

•  If thieves have fraudulently filed or changed your business registration records, contact your Secretary of State Corporations or Business Services Division

Please note that you should only contact the Secretary of State, or your state's equivalent business registration agency, for incidents involving fraudulent business filings and business registration records. All other types of business identity theft incidents and related fraud should be reported to law enforcement. You can find specific information and instructions for your state or territory using the State Resources page.

File the appropriate corrections, and be certain to also obtain certified copies of any fraudulent business filings from your Secretary of State's office. The certified copies of the fraudulent filings may be needed in the event of later civil or criminal proceedings against the impersonators.

State and Local Resources

Find local assistance Click the map to find business identity theft resources, victim assistance information, and instructions for your state or U.S. territory

✔  Report and Dispute any New Fraudulent Accounts

•  Contact each creditor, lender, or other organization where thieves have fraudulently opened new accounts in your business name

Notify each organization, in writing, that the account is fraudulent. You can make an initial notification by telephone in order to initiate resolution action and inquire about any specific documentation the organization may need, but be certain to follow-up your telephone notification in writing. Keep detailed notes regarding the conversation and the individual you spoke with. (see Other Important Actions and Tips below)

In your written notification, request that the organization immediately close the account, conduct an investigation, and remove any and all references to the account from your business credit reports, as well as from your personal credit reports, if applicable. Also, request copies of any and all available account documentation, including account applications, order and transaction history, account notes, communications, etc. With your written notification, include photocopies of applicable documentation to substantiate your allegation of fraud, such as an identity theft affidavit and/or copy of your police report, as well as any additional documentation the organization may have requested. Send your correspondence via Certified Mail with return receipt requested, and keep a complete copy of your correspondence and all supporting documentation that you submitted for your records.

✔  Protect Your Business Credit

•  Request copies of your business credit reports and review them for accuracy and suspicious activity

If erroneous, suspicious, or fraudulent information is discovered, contact the credit bureau's fraud department. You may also consider requesting a fraud alert be placed on your business credit file, which can help to alert prospective business credit grantors and reduce opportunities for thieves to open additional accounts in your business' name.

                  Dun & Bradstreet       Business credit website       Toll free:  1-800-234-3867 
  Equifax    Business credit website   Toll free:  1-800-525-6285 
  Experian     Business credit website   Toll free:  1-888-397-3742
  TransUnion     Business credit website    Toll free:  1-800-680-7289 

✔  Protect Yourself and Your Personal Credit

•  Request copies of your personal credit reports and review them for accuracy and suspicious activity

You can obtain free copies of your personal credit reports from the primary credit reporting agencies.

Carefully review your credit reports for indications of fraud or suspicious activity.

You should also consider placing a fraud alert or a credit security freeze on your personal credit file to help prevent thieves from opening new credit accounts in your name or using you as a guarantor for new business accounts.

✔  Other Important Actions and Tips

•  You may need to consult a qualified attorney

Every business identity theft case is different. Your case may may be relatively simple, or it may involve multiple states, locations, or even countries; multiple creditors or financial institutions; multiple state and federal government agencies; and many complex legal issues. With so much at stake, it is important to understand and protect your business' and your own personal legal rights. If your case is complex, you or your business are facing substantial losses, aggressive creditors, lawsuits, or criminal actions, or you simply want to make certain that your legal rights are protected, you should consider consulting with a qualified attorney.

•  Be organized and keep accurate and detailed records

Document all of your contacts with each organization, and take careful notes of each conversation. Capture the date and time, name and title of the person you spoke with, their department, telephone number and direct extension, and employee number (if applicable). You may also consider sending a written summary confirmation of your telephone conversation, including what was discussed, what actions are expected, timeframes, etc. Keep all of your notes and related documents organized and in a safe place.

•  Follow up promptly and frequently

Ensure that the organizations have received all of the information they have requested, and that any actions that were supposed to be taken have been completed (by both the organization and yourself). Do not rely on verbal promises of action. Be cognizant of dates and deadlines - your rights and liability protections can be negatively impacted by missed deadlines.

•  Send all correspondence via Certified Mail with return receipt requested

Certified mail with return receipt provides you an official record that your correspondence was received, when it was received, and the name of the person at the organization who signed for it. Send photocopies only - never send your original documents.

•  Obtain a Letter of Clearance and keep all of your records

Each time an account or fraudulent transaction(s) has been resolved, and you and your business have been absolved of the debt, request a letter of clearance from the organization to formally document this fact, in writing. Without it, you may find yourself fighting the battle again in the future if the organization is acquired by another company or sells its debt, or through old-fashioned human error. Don't throw your notes and records away - keep them in a safe place because you may need them again.

Disclaimer: Nothing contained in this guide is intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice. You are advised to consult with a licensed and qualified attorney and/or financial advisor for questions regarding your legal rights, responsibilities, and recourse.

1 Uniform Commercial Code Article 3 (Negotiable Instruments), Article 4 (Bank Deposits), and Article 4A (Funds Transfer)

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