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Monday, 15 December 2014

National UK Business Register


It has been proposed on the Open Data User Group that some key data held by HMRC on the VAT Register should be made publicly available.

Any changes to open this data up are likely to involve some years of debate and discussion, and would require legislation. However the possibility has at least been acknowledged.

Unlike Companies House for Limited companies, there is no complete official register of businesses that are not Limited companies, and there is no requirement for these businesses to file or disclose any financial data for public record. First Report can provide a non-Limited business credit check but the data available is limited in scope. The exact identity of the business can also be ambiguous.

VAT records could provide the basis of a Non-Limited Business Register and would provide a clear business identity and address, and financial data.  

Having access to this data in a credit check would give other businesses and lenders more opportunity to assess the level of credit which is realistic for the size of the business and generally assist credit controllers in making credit decisions.

It may be some way off, but if it happens the additional data will certainly be welcomed by credit controllers.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Consumers Could Benefit From Credit Checking


Consumers could benefit if they had some of the knowledge that credit controllers and credit managers use every day.

If you are one of our clients and work in credit control, you will review an application for credit and run a credit check with First Report. A decision to extend or decline credit, or where to set the credit limit and credit terms will depend on the information gathered about the business.

But consumers are also at risk of financial loss when companies fail. High street company failures can leave consumers out of pocket. The same can also happen with any large domestic purchase or home improvements project.

If a company fails, then any guarantee that came with the goods or the building work probably disappears too. If money was handed over in advance of delivery or work being done the payment may not be recoverable.

Not many consumers would think to obtain a credit report on a company or firm before handing over their money. However credit controllers know the value of checking who they are dealing with.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Job Applicants Invite ID Theft

I was advising an online employment agency about credit related data issues, and was astonished at how cavalier people can be with their personal data.

In a previous post I covered the topic of secure passwords for banking and financial services. But giving away other information about your identity is also asking for trouble.

I was privy to the CVs people were posting online and what I saw was truly shocking.

A full CV has lots of very specific information such as names and addresses of previous employers. The education details include a list of schools and educational establishments attended. Now we’re getting something useful, and things like ‘first school attended’ are stock ID checking questions used to verify your identity. However in isolation this information should not be too damaging even in the wrong hands.

But I saw CVs coming in online where people decided to include their National Insurance Number and Passport Number. Don’t ask me why. But it didn’t end there. Others clearly thought it was helpful when putting their date of birth to include their place of birth for good measure. I saw one CV that even included all the aforementioned titbits, and for good measure attached a copy of their passport! 

ID theft does not always mean accessing your bank account or credit cards and clearing them out – that would probably require knowing your passwords too. But ID theft can also be about applying for credit, opening accounts, buying goods, or obtaining new credit cards in your name.

So put all this information together with a full name and address, telephone, mobile, and email address, and in the wrong hands it is inviting ID theft. Remember, these were not paper CVs delivered to a specific potential employer, but CVs being posted on a website so others could view the CV online.

As a result of my concerns the service in question put in place some filters and added clear instructions to candidates not to embellish their CV with unnecessary personal data.

For consumers ID theft can mean financial loss as well as impacting their credit report file. But with a little more care ID theft would not be so easy.