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14.2.2023 22:50

Important message from Patent and Registration Office regarding data security when attaching documents to filings

The Patent and Registration Office (PRH) reminds businesses and their owners that the contents of filings submitted to it are sensitive.

The trade register is a register intended for general purposes, on which everyone has the right to get information about the filings submitted to it and the associated attachments.

The PRH has information on its website about how businesses can reduce the risk of scams. It is also an important message for single-person businesses.

Regarding documents, the PRH urges business owners to be sure not to enter personal ID numbers and home addresses. The PRH says that documents containing personal IDs, home addresses or other sensitive data, such as minutes or articles of association, should not be attached to filings to registers.

If you file on paper, submit personal identification details using a separate personal data form. Do not put personal ID numbers and home addresses on other filing forms.

Few captures to date

This website has warned about identity thefts before. Also read about how easily a company was captured in this case.

Tiina Toivonen, Legal Affairs Manager at Suomen Yrittäjät, is concerned about identity thefts.

“Unfortunately, the trade register can in its current form be used to harm businesses, their owners and boards. This is criminal activity in which a person places themselves or someone else on the board of a company while at the same time removing a real board member from the company’s information on the trade register.”

Toivonen says the crime can succeed because criminals use online banking codes that are valid for register entry changes but which belong to another person.

“Company captures can cause businesses significant financial losses,” she says.

To date, a small number of companies have been captured via the trade register.

How to protect your business from fraud

The PRH reminds business owners that they could receive a range of letters, phone calls, invoices and invoice reminders that have nothing to do with the PRH. Such contact usually comes from outside Finland, and it is in English. However, it is possible that a business’s contact details are wrongly used when it is approached from within Finland and in Finnish.

Tiina Toivonen of Suomen Yrittäjät recommends that businesses use PRH capture-prevention services. The PRH offers services with which a business or its owner can defend itself against actions such as company capture and fraudulent filings. These services are free.

The PRH recommends selecting exclusively electronic filings from the Business Information System (BIS). When a business owner signs a filing online on the BIS, they can indicate that the business will only file electronically in future. The business thus ensures that only a person who is authorized to make filings can make them to the trade register and the Tax Administration.

How to act if you suspect misuse

The PRH says it is important that businesses register a functioning, frequently checked email address on the trade register. That allows the business to receive notifications about changes to the register automatically at that email address.

A business can check on the government website whether its information is entered on the trade register correctly. Businesses can also use it to check the current company officers and their roles.

If you suspect misuse, request a prohibition of registration from the PRH as soon as possible. You will then not be registered as a person responsible for a company, association or foundation without your express consent.

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Pauli Reinikainen