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Police tackle Companies House database scam

Anti-hijack campaign

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The Metropolitan Police Service has launched a campaign to highlight the growing problem of "company hijacking" – where criminals fraudulently change a company’s official registration details with Companies House in order that they may impersonate it.

The fraudsters can then use and abuse the targeted firm’s credit rating, leaving the victim struggling to clean up its record. Suppliers are also left out of pocket when they think they are delivering high-value orders to a legitimate address and their subsequent invoices go unpaid.

The loss to industry through this type of fraud is estimated to be in excess of £50m per year, according to the Met.

The police service has therefore teamed up with Companies House, the agency responsible for the registration of companies, to highlight the issue, sometimes known as a Form 287 scam. In a campaign leaflet it sets out four simple steps that can be used to counter the fraud:

  • Companies should check with Companies House to ensure that their registered details – directors, company secretary and company address – are currently accurate.
  • Companies should file their documents on-line, and sign up for "PROOF", a Companies House initiative that runs a free, password protected on-line system for companies to alter their details on the register. The system will reject any amendments that are on paper or do not have the appropriate password.
  • Companies should sign up to the Companies House alert system, which will warn of any changes to company details.
  • Companies should not rely on Companies House records alone in determining whether to lend goods or services on credit, as Companies House is merely a public record and not a credit reference agency.

You can get a copy of the Met's campaign leaflet (PDF) here.

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OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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