ATLANTA — Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller was among secretaries of state and national business leaders who met this week as part of a collective effort to fight back against a new type of crime: business identity theft.
Miller recently created Nevada’s multi-jurisdictional Corporate Identity Fraud Task Force, which includes federal, state and local law enforcement officials working together to fight the growing problem of corporate identity fraud. The task force is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
“We need to address these types of crimes the same way we do other criminal activity,” Miller said. “Aggressive enforcement is the first step, of course, but my experience as a criminal prosecutor taught me that assisting victims is an equally important aspect. Corporate identity fraud can be devastating to small businesses. Just as secretaries of state around the country are active in registering and regulating some business activities, we also have a duty to provide protection and assistance when a person or business is victimized.”
Secretaries of state and senior state business division leaders from 20 states met Monday and Tuesday at The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Business Identity Theft Forum. The meeting featured 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,” said 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.”
In addition to secretaries of state, the first-of-its-kind forum included consumer advocates and representatives from federal, state and local government, including the Federal Trade Commission, Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force, Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection and the Georgia Technology Authority.
NASS will use participant input from the forum to develop a white paper aimed at helping states combat business identity theft. NASS also will work in collaboration with the national Identity Theft Protection Association to launch a new website that will help victims of business identity theft crimes.
A full NASS Business Identity Theft Forum agenda is available online at http://www.nass.org.