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IFA demands protection in wake of identity scam

Alan Steel makes plea for changes to data law after replica of firm’s accounts is lodged at Companies House.

Alan Steel Asset Management has called for more data protection for IFAs after the company was targeted by identity fraudsters.

The IFA firm found that a copy of its accounts had been lodged at Companies House last November by a dormant business based in Exeter.

Chairman Alan Steel says the accounts were an exact replica of his company’s accounts, including names of the directors.

A Companies House employee discovered the attempted scam after realising the Exeter company had not posted accounts since it was registered in 2002 and then cross-checked the directors.

Steel, who has alerted the police and consulted with lawyers, says it is fortunate no purchases of goods or services have been made in the name of any of his directors.

He says the incident demonstrates the need for wholesale change to UK data protection law, which forbids companies from publishing client details but enables Companies House to publish home addresses and personal details of IFAs.

Steel says: “Our human rights are being violated. We are up to the eyeballs in regulation and would be in breach of data protection law if we revealed client details. But at the same time, we have no protection and our names, dates of birth and addresses can be accessed by anyone on the Companies House website. The law needs to be changed to give us more protection.”

A spokesman for Companies House says this kind of scam is very rare as only 50 fraudulent documents a month are discovered out of 600,000 documents filed. He says: “We are happy that we have been able to spot something was wrong. We have put a lot of effort into highlighting issues around fraud and the steps we are taking to try to combat it.”

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