Tuesday, May 22, noon – 1 p.m.
Location: Husson University Dyke Center for Family Business in Bangor
Wednesday, May 23, 7 – 8 a.m.
Location: University of Maine Presque Isle Campus Center
Thursday, May 31, 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Location: Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, 443 Congress St.
Thursday, June 7, noon – 1 p.m.
Location: Sunrise County Economic Council, 1 Stackpole Road, Machias
Contact: Jay Martin, small business advocate at the Department of the Secretary of State at (207) 626-8410 or email@example.com.
While most Mainers are aware of the dangers of personal identity theft, many business owners remain in the dark about the growing threat of corporate identity theft. The term "business identity theft" describes various fraudulent or unauthorized uses of a company's identity and, according to Dun & Bradstreet, has been reported in at least 26 states. In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission received 503 identity theft complaints based in Maine, many of them involving corporate identity. In response to this threat, I am launching a seminar series to educate business owners on how to prevent being victimized and what steps to take if their company falls prey.
Criminals seek to gain access to bank accounts, credit cards and other sensitive company information, then secure lines of credit in the name of the victim entity. Once the theft is discovered, businesses are faced with the difficult task of repairing the damage to their credit and reputation, and banks and retailers are often left with major financial losses.
The following are examples of this type of activity, as reported by National Association of Secretaries of State:
The Department of the Secretary of State serves as a repository for all records relating to over 80,000 business entities and nonprofit corporations operating in Maine. Identity thieves often attempt to use state business registration websites to gain access to online business records that they then use for nefarious purposes. As Secretary of State, one of my priorities is to ensure the security of business records filed with this office.
To this end, I have developed a series of corporate identity theft education seminars in partnership with the U.S. Secret Service. These one-hour seminars are open to the public and free. Attendees can learn about the threat of corporate identity theft, how to prevent it and what to do if they discover they are a victim of this crime. At each seminar, we will seek input from business owners and managers to determine how to further strengthen our laws to make it more difficult for thieves to obtain sensitive information.