Identity theft is a serious crime that affects an estimated 9 million Americans every year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. While the personal identities of consumers continue to be the main target of criminals, another type of victim is emerging.
Business identity theft, also known as corporate or commercial identity theft, is on the rise. The crime occurs when a criminal obtains and uses a business’s identity to make unauthorized changes to government documents or establish lines of credit with banks and retailers.
The Montana Secretary of State Business Identity Theft Resource Center provides businesses access to key information and resources that will help them reduce the risk of, detect, and recover from identity theft.
Preventing Business Identity Theft
Awareness is an effective tool against identity theft. Knowing how information is stolen and how to quickly detect identity theft can help you establish an effective prevention plan for your business.
The Montana Secretary of State’s Business Identity Theft: Prevention, Detection and Recovery Tips guide offers suggested practices for keeping your identity secure.
Detecting Business Identity Theft
Even the most cautious business owner can fall victim to business identity theft. Determined criminals are always in search of new ways to steal information and catch a business off-guard. By familiarizing yourself with the warning signs, you may be able to stop an attempt of identity theft before it happens.
Recovering from Business Identity Theft
If you’ve fallen victim to business identity theft, it is important to take action immediately. Report the fraud to your attorney, local law enforcement, federal authorities and credit reporting bureaus. Remember to keep records of all your correspondence regarding the identity fraud, and to make copies of your original reports.
Better Business Bureau: Identity Theft Prevention, Information and Resources
Better Business Bureau “Secure Your ID” Day
Federal Trade Commission Information for Consumers
Federal Trade Commission Information for Businesses
MT Office of Consumer Protection (Dept. of Justice) ID Theft & Security Freeze
Identity Theft Resource Center – Montana
Consumers Union (CU)
Montana Code Annotated
The Montana Office of Consumer Protection works to protect the state’s consumers from fraud. The office is a local resource for reporting criminal acts including scams and business identity or data theft. In some cases, the office may refer victims’ complaints to a private attorney.
Contact: Office of Consumer Protection
Montana Department of Justice
2225 11th Avenue
P.O. Box 200151
Helena, Montana 59620-0151
Phone: (800) 481-6896
Identity Theft & Security Freeze
Identity Theft Passport Application
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal clearinghouse for identity theft complaints. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, it helps victims of identity theft by providing them with information to help resolve the financial problems that result from identity theft. The FTC also may refer victims’ complaints to other appropriate government agencies and private organizations for action.
Contact: Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Phone: 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)
FTC Identity Theft Website
The U.S. Social Security Administration and the Office of the Inspector General can assist you with Social Security fraud. When filing a report, have on hand your address, telephone number, Social Security number, and a complete description of the incident.
The U.S. Postal Inspector can assist if an identity thief stole your mail to get new credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-screened offers, tax information, or if a thief has falsified change-of-address forms. Contact your local post office for the phone number for the nearest postal inspection service or check the Postal Service website.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is one of the federal criminal law enforcement agencies that investigate cases of identity theft. Local field offices are listed in the Blue Pages of a Montana telephone directory. You can also access the FBI’s website.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) can be contacted if you would like to check the “Reliability Rating” of a company or if you have a problem resolving fraudulent charges. The BBB’s Spokane office services eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana.
Contact: 152 S. Jefferson
Spokane, WA 99201
Phone: (509) 455-4200
BBB Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, Montana
Secure Your ID Day