Colorado’s Secretary of State and other officials are warning the state’s 800,000 or so registered businesses to watch out for scammers who have been forging business identities to make fraudulent purchases from several big-box retailers in recent months, reports PC World.
The corporate identity thefts itself were possible because of what appears to have been a surprisingly wide open business registration system at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. As with every other state, Colorado requires companies doing business in the state to register details of their business. Like other states, the business registration details, which include the name of the registered agent of the company, its full local address and other information, are a public record that can be viewed by anyone.
In Colorado’s case, however, not only does the state allow anyone to view the record — it also allows just about anyone to alter or update it. The state site requires no username or password for access to a company’s registration information, which means that anyone with access to the site can make changes.
The identity thieves used this hole to alter the contact and other registration information for several companies. According to Brown, many of the companies targeted appear to have been smaller and medium-sized firms and, in some cases, defunct companies. Once the registration information was changed, the scammers then used the forged identity to make online applications for lines of credit with the retailers.
Photo by Colorado Secretary of State.