Colorado launches online tool to combat business identity theft

Combatting personal identity fraud has been a long-running battle, and in Colorado, officials are getting more aggressive in trying to stop business identity fraud as well.

The Colorado Secretary of State on Monday launched a new online tool where people can report fraudulent business filings, defined as when a bad actor creates a new business using someone else’s address or personal information without their written consent, modifies an existing business registration without consent, or takes over a current registration for fraudulent purposes.

It doesn’t cover internal disputes between current and former business partners, disgruntled employees or competitors, upset spouses or romantic partners, and warring family members or friends.

“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 Secretary of State Jena Griswold in a news release.

Complaints deemed legitimate will be turned over to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation, following requirements in the “Combating Business Identity Theft Act,” which passed the legislature last year. If fraud is suspected, victim information will be redacted and the record flagged 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. 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,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said in the release.

At the end of last year, Colorado had nearly 799,000 business and nonprofit flings that are in a delinquent status, compared to 917,384 in good standing. Owners of those delinquent registrations who no longer are using them should consider dissolving them so they can’t be hijacked for fraudulent purposes.

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which is studying fraud in government assistance programs during the pandemic, identified nearly 70,000 questionable Social Security numbers that were used to obtain $5.4 billion in fraudulent business loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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