Preventing Business Identity Theft – Florida Secretary of State’s records
Fraudulent filings on the Florida Secretary of State’s website, Sunbiz.org, are on the rise. Although many business owners and officers are familiar with Sunbiz.org and its business entity directories, most may not realize that the Sunbiz.org online filing portal has no verification process in place. This lack of verification may allow a bad actor to submit false documents, update or alter key entity information to demonstrate authority or ownership.
In one instance, a criminal fraudulently changed the mailing address, federal tax identification number, officers, directors, and registered agent of an entity by filing an amended annual report with the State via Sunbiz.org. Allegedly this bad actor also stole business mail and checks made out to the entity, and attempted to demonstrate authority, via the entity’s Sunbiz.org profile, to cash these checks and gain access to sensitive financial information.
The lack of safeguards in the Sunbiz.org filing portal necessitates business owners to closely monitor their entity’s Sunbiz.org profile and any emails received from the State. After a report or amended report is filed via Sunbiz.org, the State will generally send correspondence to the email address on file alerting the business to any filings or changes in the State’s records. Any unauthorized or unexpected change should be an immediate “red flag”, prompting business owners to review updates and take corrective action. Often, curative documents can be filed to correct Sunbiz records. When a simple correction cannot be made, business owners may be able to file a notarized “Statement of Fact” informing the public that the fraudulent document in question was filed without the knowledge or consent of the entities’ officers. The Statement of Fact, made part of the public record will alert anyone who visits Sunbiz.org and views the entity’s records.
Contact Williams Parker today to best protect your business against fraudulent filings.