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Companies House takes new measures to fraud fight, but not biometric IDV

Companies House takes new measures to fraud fight, but not biometric IDV

Companies House, the UK’s business registry, has begun rolling out new tools to fight fraud and help cleanse the register of fraudulent accounts, according to a government release.

The first measures to come into force under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCT Act) give Companies House more power to query information and request supporting evidence, stronger checks on company names, a requirement for all companies to supply a registered email address, and the ability to share data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies, among other tools.

Biometric identity verification, however, is not on the list – for now.

One might expect Companies House to use every option available to it in implementing fraud protection measures, given the scale of fraud it has been subject to of late. Some 800 fake companies have been able to register with the government body, including fake restaurants created using names and identities stolen from celebrity chefs. In March, UK Finance, the banking trade association, issued a warning to banks about rogue filings with Companies House.

Until now, verification measures have been loose, only requiring the name of one director.

“We’ve known for some time that criminals have misused UK companies to commit fraud, money laundering and other forms of economic crime,” says Companies House CEO Louise Smyth. “As we start to crack down on abuse of the register, we are prioritizing cases where people’s names and addresses have been used without their consent. It will now be much quicker and easier to report and remove personal information that has been misused.”

While biometrics are not included in the first round of reforms, a note in the release specifies that “identity verification and accounts reform will be introduced over a longer period,” per the ECCT Act. Still, there is no direct reference to biometrics, and the Act largely seems to presume that identities can and will be verified with a statement.

Liminal promotes automation, FullCircl advises holistic approach

FullCircl and Liminal understand the naivete of underestimating fraudsters. A release from fintech innovator FullCircl commenting on the Companies House matter highlights the importance of “a holistic approach to KYC/KYB and real-time screening of company data.”

FullCircle points out that its platform provides access to data on every company in the UK and Ireland, and says its customers can rest assured it is monitoring the rogue filings situation to ensure its suppliers are providing accurate information.

Digital identity market intelligence and strategy firm Liminal has its own solution to the problem of identity verification in digital business onboarding. In a webinar entitled “Automating ‘Yes’: Solving Identity in Digital Business Onboarding”, speakers from Liminal, Middesk and American Banker address the complexity of verifying business identities. They also explore how automation could help streamline verification processes, lower costs, improve customer experience and protect against fraud.

The webinar is available to view here. It follows the recent release of its Link Index for Business and Entity Verification for Financial Institutions and Fintechs market research report.

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