Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant is teaming with Secretaries from nine states and the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) to protect businesses from identity theft.
The NASS Business Identity Theft Task Force is a major association initiative that will target business identity theft prevention strategies and develop practical, cost-effective tools and guidance for states.
In West Virginia, business owners can file their annual reports online using the secure website www.business4wv.com. To gain access to their information, business owners must enter a user name and password that they have chosen. They also have the option of changing their password at any time. Also, in order for a business owner to update their annual report, they must enter a personal identification number issued by the Secretary of State’s Office. That PIN changes every year.
“From the day I came into office I’ve known how important it is to help our small businesses in any way possible,” Secretary Tennant said. “The contribution that small business makes to our economy is extremely valuable. We’ve helped them file important paperwork securely, quickly, and easily online. As part of this task force, I look forward to working closely with secretaries from across the country to generate fresh ideas on how to make our business information even more secure than it is now.”
Identity theft has been in the headlines recently in West Virginia because of a rash of incidents in Charleston. According to published reports, the West Virginia division of the Secret Service has taken the lead on the investigation. While those cases of identity theft involved people, it has highlighted the need for business owners to protect sensitive information about their business.
Along with Tennant the task force includes Secretaries Beth Chapman of Alabama, Debra Bowen of California, Scott Gessler of Colorado, Jeff Bullock of Delaware, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Ben Ysursa of Idaho, Mark Ritchie of Minnesota, Ross Miller of Nevada, and Jim Condos of Vermont.
The group, which convened by conference call for the first time on April 7, determined the range of issues that will be researched and addressed by the task force. These include the types of technology used by states in housing business documents, solutions for securing state business filing information and records, and key partnerships/liaisons for conducting outreach. Members also discussed state laws and other deterrents to business identity theft.
"The NASS Business Identity Theft Task Force capitalizes on the expertise of our members when it comes to state business services and records management," said NASS Executive Director Leslie Reynolds. "Task force members are confident that working together on identity theft prevention is an extremely wise investment strategy for states and businesses alike, saving valuable time, money and resources for all."
The task force's final report is scheduled to be released later this year.