Atlanta, Ga. – West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant and Business and Licensing Division Manager Penney Barker are part of a national panel meeting in Atlanta today to fight back against a new type of crime: business identity theft.
The panel includes Secretaries of State and business division leaders from 19 other states. The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Business Identity Theft Forum, which runs October 17 and 18 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, features expert panels designed to assist the officials who oversee state business records and filings with fraud-related awareness, detection and prevention efforts.
“Secretaries of State want to warn businesses, particularly small and mid-size business owners, that this type of crime can be financially devastating,” noted Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who serves as Co-Chair of the NASS Business Identity Theft Task Force and has seen more than 300 businesses in his state fall victim to identity thieves, with total losses exceeding $3.5 million. “Business identities are uniquely valuable, because they often have an established credit history that can be worth a lot of money to fraudsters.”
NASS also held a Business Identity Theft workshop at its annual summer conference in West Virginia.
“We offer all of these useful online tools for business owners,” Tennant said. “We urge them to file important paperwork online. We have to step up to the plate and make sure the information about their business, their products, and their employees is secure. For a lot of small business owners, their business is their life. And getting together like this will help us learn what other states are doing to keep vital information secure and then apply those lessons in West Virginia.”
In addition to Secretaries of State, the first-of-its-kind forum includes consumer advocates and representatives from federal, state and local government, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Secret Service/Electronic Crimes Task Force, Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection and the Georgia Technology Authority.
Event sponsors taking part in forum panels include DataStream Content Solutions, CT Corporation, Dun & Bradstreet, the Identity Theft Protection Association, INVISUS, Kaspersky Lab, Inc., LifeLock, NIC and Shred-It.
NASS will use participant input from the forum to develop a white paper aimed at helping states combat business identity theft. NASS will also work in collaboration with the national Identity Theft Protection Association to launch a new website that will assist victims of business identity theft crimes.
“Protecting the state-held information that offers a potential gateway to business identity theft is a critical component of our mission,” said North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who serves as Co-Chair of the NASS Business Identity Theft Task Force. “We are working with the business and financial communities to bring this crime to the forefront, harness new technology to develop cost-effective solutions, and ultimately, make it harder for identity thieves to prey upon state-based businesses.”