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Corporate identity theft – a new dilemma

Posted By IRMSAInsight, 20 August 2015
IRMSA Breakfast
24 August 2015 


Corporate identity theft – a new dilemma


Identity theft is no longer only a consumer crime and has been taken to new levels with the emergence of corporate (business) identity theft. This specific fraud type involves the fraudulent and deliberate misrepresentation of a company’s / organisation’s identity and occurs where fraudsters take on a company’s / organisation’s identity for fraudulent or other criminal purposes.


Corporate identity theft involves the impersonation of the company / organisation and takes the form of theft or misuse of business credentials to defraud the business (and / or owners), its customers, creditors and suppliers, financial institutions and other parties. Various fraudulent activities can thereafter be embarked upon to deprive the business of its assets and resources such as accessing its bank and other accounts, issuing or filing fraudulent documents, records and returns etc. While the effects are often financial in nature, corporate identity theft can also have devastating effect on the brand and reputation of the victim company in the marketplace.


There exist various motivators for corporate identity theft, ranging from fraudsters who have only financial gains on their minds to disgruntled employees or customers who may wish to tarnish the brand and reputation of the Victim Company / organisation. Needless to say the impact of corporate identity theft can be particularly damaging and may have a devastating effect on the Victim Company / organisation, irrespective its size or the sector it operates in.


Some basic defences

To minimise the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft and exposing your customer or business information, there are a number of precautions which you can take:


  • Keep your customer and business information confidential at all times.

  • Never share or give out this information to any party unless it is a trusted source and they are authorised to receive it.

  • Regularly check statements and accounts received and keep these documents safe.

  • Always safeguard and secure documents containing confidential information, both in hardcopy and electronic formats.

  • Maintain careful records and when disposing of these documents do so safely by shredding or destroying the documents.

  • Ensure that you are aware of and comply with the company’s prescribed policies and procedures for information protection, disclosing and / or providing any information.



  • How well is confidential information protected and stored within your organisation?

  • Do your company have retention and disposal policies in place to ensure only relevant documents are kept and the rest disposed of in a confidential manner?




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