Companies House Reforms - open to abuse ?

Signature no longer required for paper DS01 to close company.

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I am currently filing a paper DS01 to close help a client's company and realised a signature is no longer required due to the Companies House reforms.  You can simply just type the name in.

I was just thinking - how many paper forms for Companies House no longer require a wet signature and due to these changes - could this be potentially be open to abuse by people submitting changes for the company by masquerading as the Company Director ?

Replies (15)

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By Samantha20
04th May 2024 10:58

It doesn't surprise me.

A lot at CH is susceptible to fraud.

All they need to do is set up an alert system so that if anything changes then the company directors get an email like the Land Registry does.

But knowing them even if they set that up, it would still probably be susceptible to fraud.

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Replying to Samantha20:
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By FactChecker
04th May 2024 13:06

How does the Alert system help if the change of which they're trying to notify you is that the Email address has been 'updated'?

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By Samantha20
04th May 2024 14:14

FactChecker wrote:

How does the Alert system help if the change of which they're trying to notify you is that the Email address has been 'updated'?

Well, hopefully they wouldn't allow a change of email address without the comprehensive checks including passports etc.

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Replying to Samantha20:
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By FactChecker
04th May 2024 15:05

My (slightly tongue-in-cheek) comment was just an example of how nothing is secure unless you apply rules that make it almost impossible to access even when you're the 'real deal'.
The end result is that most 'security' systems end up being more figleaf than padlock ... leading to the worst of both worlds where criminals easily jump the hurdles, but the ordinary Jo is inconvenienced (but without the promised security).

FWIW last year someone managed to open multiple accounts with 3 different banks (all within an hour of each other) - using my name and address.
None of my accounts were compromised, so I didn't find out for a couple of days - when the 'welcome' letters started pounding through my front door.
To cut a long story short (several days of my life that I won't see again), I suffered no harm but was surprised at how long they kept sending me letters (PINs etc) over a week after they'd been told to shut all those accounts.

The best bit?
A fortnight later I got yet another letter - confirming that I could use their voice recognition facility to access massive new loan facilities (based on recordings they had from when whoever it was first opened the accounts).
So I phoned them again to warn them that their systems were shall we say unco-ordinated ... but was told that I'd failed the voice recognition (not surprising since it wasn't me that they'd recorded), so they couldn't discuss that account with me!

BTW no-one would tell me what other info (apart from name & address) had been used to impersonate me ... presumably something? ... but I did notice an alarming coincidence.
I guard my personal details closely (have never used any 'social' sites and prefer to stick to paper forms than punting my info into the ether) and this was the only time that my ID 'has been stolen' ... a mere 4 days after everything bar my inside leg measurement had been typed into the DVLA site (because they insisted on me doing this in order to retain my driving licence as I'd now had my 70th birthday).
Coincidence?
Once HM govt's systems are all connected (probably a while yet although the plans are being rolled out), it will only take one large breach (Russia or China or pure criminals) to make the entire foundation of ALL our systems unreliable.

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By WongR
04th May 2024 14:50

The excuse at Companies House reform does amuse me, they are trying to prevent fraud....

"The government understands a signature is an item of personal data that can be forged and used for fraud and identity theft, and is committed to reducing the amount of personal data on the public register. "

(source : https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/company-details-on-documents/...)

How about just not making the signature open access for everyone to the general public to view at Companies House (something I feel they should have been doing from the start).

Its ironic how the Government keeps banging on about AML and GDPR when there is such a huge source of potential fraud risk sitting right under their control - yet they have failed to do anything about it until now....

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Replying to WongR:
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By Rgab1947
08th May 2024 10:31

Signatures are easy to forge.

A partner needed my signature on a document. As I was not available he just "forged" mine. He said it was easy. Mind you he did warn me before and I knew what the document contained and would have signed if available.

I subsequently added a little twist to the signature to ensure I would know if forged. Unfortunately I kept forgetting to do that each time. LOL.

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Replying to Rgab1947:
By Charlie Carne
08th May 2024 11:23

No one could expect Companies House to manually check every signature against some database of official signatures (even if such a database existed, which it doesn't). That's not the point of the signature. Signing someone else's name is fraud, so forcing a signature on a document provides the ability to sue for fraud, which would be much harder to prove if the form simply asked for details and did not require the submitter to sign their approval.

It's a similar concept to the US ESTA immigration form which asks "Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?" Of course a terrorist is not going to admit that but, if an individual lies on their immigration form and is later found to have been involved in prohibited activities, having lied on an official document can be used as a legal basis to prosecute them or to enhance the penalties they face, especially where direct evidence of the original crime is harder to obtain.

Some years ago, a friend asked me to witness their signature on a document that they had already signed. I told them that I hadn't witnessed them signing it, so I could not sign to say that I had (even after they signed another sheet to show me that the signatures matched). I told them to create a new form and sign it in front of me; I was then able to sign as a witness to their signature. These things may sound minor but strict adherence is fundamental to reliance on paper documentation.

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RedFive
By RedFive
04th May 2024 17:02

When the Director signed the form, what or where did Companies House check the signature to?

I'll give you the answer - they didn't. No signature is provided on opening a Company.

You could sign Mickey Mouse and the form would still be actioned.

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Replying to RedFive:
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By WongR
04th May 2024 17:48

I agree - however, I have once encountered a scenario where one shareholder try to rewrite history and was filing documentation at Companies House to the detriment of the other shareholder.

At that point there started a very large argument over who filed / authorised what and signatures became evidence to what was potentially the start of a civil case... But it would help if CH kept their filing requirements tighter.

We had other party filing backdated changes for over 6 years ago and CH was just accepting the changes.

A signature seen on the forms would begin the settle the argument to who authorised the changes.

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By Paul Crowley
04th May 2024 21:38

Signatures are in the public domain, brought to you by Companies House.
Cheques do the same thing.
The co house authentication code less readily available, but I suspect hackable.

There is no such thing as secure.

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By 356B
06th May 2024 19:56

Surely the same applies to CT600. (apologies for calling you Shirley).

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By Rgab1947
08th May 2024 10:27

You still need the authorisation code.

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Replying to Rgab1947:
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By philaccountant
08th May 2024 11:21

6 alphanumeric digits... hardly confidence inspiring. Most decent websites wouldn't allow a password that simple any more.

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By Justin Bryant
08th May 2024 11:10
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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By FactChecker
08th May 2024 14:29

As previously reported here https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/business/financial-reporting/concerns-ra...

Noticeable how (yet again) HMRC's incompetence becomes *our* fault - and that it's *our* responsibility to police their broken system.

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