New tool helps businesses prevent identity theft

A new tool enabling Coloradans to report fraudulent business filings is now available from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

The tool — available online through the website at www.ColoradoSOS.gov — protects businesses and individuals by enabling them to report when someone has formed a new business fraudulently using someone else’s address or personal information or taken over a legitimate business filing in an attempt to leverage it for fraud.

“As secretary of state, I will always work to ensure Colorado remains a great place to own and operate a business. This new resource provides protections for hard-working Colorado business owners from the increasing threat of business identity theft while cutting red tape,” said Jena Griswold, Colorado secretary of state.

When the secretary of state’s office receives a complaint of a suspected fraudulent filing via this new tool, the complaint will be referred to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office for investigation. If the subsequent investigation determines the business filing to be fraudulent, the secretary of state’s office will then redact victim information and flag the record as suspected fraudulent activity.

“Fraudulent business filings with the state can cause significant harm and inconvenience to legitimate business owners, and these types of filings are often made in order to commit other fraud and crimes,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “My office is committed to working with the secretary of state’s office to crack down on business identity theft using this new state law.”

This interagency process, established as a result of the Combating Business Identity Theft Act, aims to stem business identity theft in Colorado.

Business identity theft is a crime in which thieves use a business’s identity to establish lines of credit with banks or retailers. With these lines of credit, the identity thieves often buy items that can be exchanged for cash or sold with relative ease. The damage can be devastating to the victim business, with credit history damage or denial of credit leading to operational problems.

“The collaborative efforts of the Legislature, secretary of state and attorney general’s office has resulted in an important step in stopping bad actors from stealing the identities of Colorado businesses,” said State Rep. Shannon Bird, among the sponsors of the legislation. “We are keeping it easy to start a business in Colorado and at the same time making it very hard for fraudsters to steal identities and take advantage of the public.”