Companies House recently unveiled a substantial package of reforms that will do more to safeguard the personal data of business owners and ensure the accuracy of the register, effectively offering U.K. companies greater protection from fraud.
The proposed reforms, unveiled by Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst on 5 May, “will help increase the accuracy and usefulness of the information available on the companies register, which last year was accessed 6.5 billion times and, as of March 2018, included over four million limited companies,” the U.K government said in a statement.
In the last three years, almost 10,000 complaints were made to Companies House from people concerned about their personal details, particularly concerning fraud and use of personal details.
The package of proposed reforms includes:
- Knowing who is setting up, managing, and controlling companies. Those who have a key role in companies will have their identity verified.
- Improving the accuracy and usability of data on the register. Companies House will now be able to query and corroborate information before it is entered on the register. This will also mean it is easier and quicker to remove inaccurate information from the register.
- Protecting personal information on the register. In a minority of cases the register can be misused to identify personal information, which can then be used for criminal purposes. Under these proposals, directors will be given additional rights over their information, for example personal home addresses, while ensuring this information is still available in a transparent manner to public authorities where appropriate.
- Improving the detection of possible criminal behaviour. Better information sharing by Companies House, other government bodies, and financial institutions will better protect businesses and ensure faster and more sophisticated identification of possible criminal activity, benefitting businesses and consumers.
“This package of reforms represents a significant milestone for Companies House as they will enable us to play a greater part in tackling economic crime, protect directors from identity theft and fraud and improve the accuracy of the register,” said Chief Executive of Companies House Louise Smyth.
“The proposals will be underpinned by a major transformation programme to upgrade digital services at Companies House alongside a complete review of its staffing and skills requirement,” the U.K. government said. “This package of proposals, if brought forward, would be the largest change to our system of setting up and operating companies since the register was created in 1844.”