The identity theft involving Kalahari Resources' details being changed on the CIPRO database last year was a stark reminder to South African companies about the reality of this type of fraud. Then, in February this year, the Minister of Trade and Industries, Rob Davies, warned about an increasing threat from criminal syndicates using identity theft to defraud CIPRO-registered companies.
Experts agree that the first line of defence for companies is to constantly check and become aware of any changes made to their listing at CIPRO (Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office). Companies can now do this automatically and for free, thanks to the launch of Company Alert .
Company Alert sends immediate e-mail alerts if a company's status or directors change on the CIPRO database. It also sends monthly updates about a company's CIPRO listing. In the case of identity theft taking place, companies can act immediately to limit any material damage by contacting CIPRO, their banks and the police.
Fraudsters have used illegitimately updated details to set up new bank accounts and then illegally claim tax rebates from SARS or invoice the company's creditors with the phony bank account details. According to media reports, the DTI has also raised concerns about terrorists using CIPRO to launder money.
Company Alert is the brainchild of Colin Day, CEO of WinDeed (www.windeed.co.za). WinDeed is the market leader in on-line property searches and is part of Korbitec, property software development specialists. WinDeed allows estate agents, attorneys and other property-related organisations to easily search the Deeds Office, CIPRO, credit bureaus and the Surveyor General. It was therefore a logical next step for WinDeed to develop the system to allow companies to use the search function to keep tabs on their CIPRO records with the launch of Company Alert.
"It's all very well telling companies to regularly check their CIPRO records but this isn't very practical unless you have the ability to automate the process and have the notification of changes sent to you. We realised we had most of the solution in our existing WinDeed functionality and could therefore provide Company Alert as a free service to South African companies" said Day.