https://companieshouse.blog.gov.uk/2015/06/17/great-news-were-listening-to-our-customers-and-making-changes/

Great news - we're listening to our customers and making changes

gareth_lloyd_director_of_digital_services
Gareth Lloyd - Director of Digital Services

I wanted to give you an update on one of the legislative changes that will apply when the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act (SBEEA) comes into force later this year.

Our customers have been telling us that they are concerned that a director’s full date of birth is shown on the public register. As this is a key piece of information that could potentially be used in identity fraud, you can see why it has been an issue to some of our company directors.

The good news is that the government has listened to these concerns and the new Act will, from October 2015, limit access to director's date of birth information.

While directors appointed after this date will still be required to provide their full date of birth, we will only display the month and year of birth on the public register. We will suppress the day of birth information for all directors on all Companies House products, including images of new paper filings (unfortunately, we haven’t yet come up with a cost-effective way to redact day of birth from historical paper filings, but we’re working on it).

small_business_enterprise_and_employment_act

Our staff are currently working very hard to implement all aspects of SBEEA. As a part of this work we're busy updating all of our systems and we're also developing a new service to meet the needs of UK businesses.

Our new service (currently in beta testing) will eventually be the portal to all company information. I’m happy to announce that we will go ahead with some elements of day of birth suppression earlier than planned, in response to customer feedback.

I’ll blog again soon to provide further updates on our new service and the changes resulting from SBEEA.

To keep in touch, sign up to email updates from this blog, or follow us on Twitter.

22 comments

  1. M Rupon

    Hi
    Thanks for your response before tou make change people will have company director full details to use fraud activities.

    In previous company house page only show director name but in beta service showing full details including DOB, home address too. This Beta service should be suspended immediatly until hide DOB and director home address from website.
    This information only be provide when someone requested not to allow public freely to see personal details.

    As Director of Digital you should tale this action without any delay but you saying your team will work on it. Once people got and used fruadly

    Thanks

    Link to this comment
    • Esme Turner

      Thanks for your comment, to clarify the information available on our new beta service has always been displayed on our public register. The address shown for a director is a 'service address' not a 'usual residential address' (URA). The URA is protected information and is not displayed on the register. For dates of birth, the legislation is changing to allow us to show only the month and year, not the day. Although this change won't come into full effect until October 2015, we will suppress the information on our new beta service within the next few days.

      Link to this comment
    • Paul Anthony

      You forget one major problem by deleting the day of the month from a directors date of birth; this now greatly assists the fraudsters who defraud by obtaining credit under company names and makes it more difficult to identify the fraudster in future investigations.

      Link to this comment
      • Esme Turner

        Concerns were raised regarding ID fraud from customers, the partial suppression of DOBs was a response to public consultation. We feel the partial suppression will actually help prevent fraud as this info isn't as easy to obtain. Please note: full DOBs will be disclosed to public authorities to assist with fraud investigations when required.

        Link to this comment
  2. Christian Browne

    I advise alot of directors and identity fraud/ theft is becoming more prevalent generally. The fact that Companies House records can be accessed anywhere means that identity fraud/ theft is not just restricted to the UK and if anything the greatest risks are from outside the UK.

    It is good to see that legislation/ Companies House are moving with the times and taking note of the concerns of directors. Using service addresses and restricting disclosure of the full date of birth will certainly reduce the risks of directors identities being exploited without their consent.

    Link to this comment
  3. Patrick Blogg

    There are definitely home addresses shown on there. Which suggests that some records have a URA as a Service Address? Could you not do a query and check what proportion of records have the same URA and Service Address?

    Link to this comment
    • Jac Bond

      Hi Patrick, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Unfortunately we’re unable to determine that data. It’s down to the customer to specify their service address and we accept that information in good faith. However, customers are able to amend/update their records if required.

      Link to this comment
  4. Martin Rimmer

    How can a Google search for a person be prevented from revealing a date of birth? (checkcompany.co.uk) Would one have to contact the website direct or will this feed from the Companies House website?

    Link to this comment
  5. It Smee

    @Martin Rimmer, >60 days and still no response. That's shoddy for any organisation, but one as well funded as Companies House and on such a sensitive topic....

    Perhaps you need to call checkcompany.co.uk out publicly and ask them for a public statement? Clearly if our Civil Servants and Parliamentarians have been able to consider this piece of legislation, bring about changes and vote them through then there has been plenty of time to make trivial changes to the presentation app that serves up checkcompany.co.uk's data (which they've mined from public records).

    Companies House should be pro-actively educating first-level organisations that leech from its data. As for the ripples beyond the splash, they may take a looong time to abate - I still get idiots calling me to try and sell electricity to a bankrupt company that had the phone line before I leased it more than fifteen years ago; I usually ask them to call Sally at "head office on 01625 545 745", which is the ICO's number 🙂

    Link to this comment
  6. Tony Hetherington

    The real solution would be for the authorities in general to take ID fraud itself more seriously as an offence, rather than limiting information that's available from Companies House. Otherwise, logically, you might just as well delete names as well, simply on the grounds that they are also used for ID fraud. What we're left with now in many cases is a director's name that is only partial (ie, does not include middle names), that is not strictly accurate (eg, Jim instead of James), that is "accidentally" wrongly spelled (eg, Rodgers instead of Rogers), that does not include a residential address, and that now includes only a partial date of birth. Con artists just love the direction in which Companies House is heading! It has become harder and harder to establish that today's offender is the same person as yesterday's crook. Thanks a lot for this.

    Link to this comment
    • Esme Turner

      The director’s residential address and full date of birth are collected and held by Companies House. Parliament has legislated that not making that data publicly available strikes the right balance between transparency and personal privacy. The full information remains available to public authorities such as law enforcement. Regarding inconsistency in directors’ names, we are obliged to comply with the Companies Act 2006 and rely on the information filed by companies. It is an offence to knowingly file false or misleading information and we work closely with enforcement agencies on combating economic and identity crime.

      Link to this comment
  7. Pat

    As a director of a recently incorporated company, I was horrified to discover that my full date of birth is currently visible on several business register websites- this personal information could only have been provided by companies house. I believe publishing full date of birth poses a huge security risk and as a public organisation, you should take steps to protect director information which has been provided to you in good faith. Please action immediately.

    Link to this comment
    • David Griffiths

      With the implementation of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act, since 1st October 2015, your day of birth is now suppressed on the public register. This means only the month and year of your birth will be shown. Unfortunately we have no control over information available via other business register websites and you would need to contact them directly to discuss removal of personal details.

      Link to this comment
  8. Sarah

    Can you please advise when the full DOB will be removed from historic filings still available on the Companies House website? Unfortunately simply removing it from the web page does not resolve the risk when it remains publicly available on all filing documents.

    Link to this comment
    • Esme Turner

      Hi Sarah, we do not intend to redact date of birth information contained on images of historical filings, we are suppressing this information on our data systems and believe this will go some way towards making it less visible as this is how the majority of customers access company information. It should be noted that this information has already been distributed via our bulk products. It would be very resource intensive to redact this information from images of previously filed documents and, as this information has already been made publicly available, it was decided that this was not an appropriate use of our resources.

      Link to this comment
  9. Terry

    I was HORRIFIED to see my date of birth and home address for my old company. It was dissolved 12 yrs ago. The DOB is now only showing month year. I now know why the sudden huge increase in phising and Junk mail I've recieved.

    Fraudsters' paradise.

    I cannot create a service address the company is old. What can I do?

    I'm ok with someone seeing my DOB if they request documents not on a casual search e.g. a valid enquiry.

    How about a class-action. We have a right to privacy and not to be put a risk there should be a balance to the availability of this data.

    Link to this comment
  10. Terry

    It gets even worse, they have scanned images of one's signature.

    Irresponsible and failure of duty of care.

    Link to this comment
    • Esme Turner

      Companies House does not intend to redact date of birth information contained on images of historical filings, we are suppressing this information on our data systems and believe this will go some way towards making it less visible as this is how the majority of customers access company information. It should be noted that this information has already been distributed via our bulk products. It would be very resource intensive to redact this information from images of previously filed documents and, as this information has already been made publicly available, it was decided that this was not an appropriate use of our resources.

      Link to this comment
  11. Tony Hetherington

    Thank you, Esme. However, Companies House has no way of confirming the accuracy or honesty of the residential addresses and full dates of birth that it now keeps secret. As officials keep telling me, they only warehouse what they are given and have no responsibility for verifying it. Yes, it is an offence knowingly to file false information, but when it is filed, Companies House takes no action, and tells me it has no power to do so. As a means of checking the legitimacy of a company, it has become less and less reliable.

    Link to this comment
    • Esme Turner

      While we are required to accept information delivered by the company, we will consider any complaint concerning inaccurate data on the register. Our aim is to ensure our register is complete and correct but if this is not possible we will consider prosecution where there is a public interest in doing so. Although residential addresses and dates of birth are no longer made available to the general public, specified public authorities and credit reference agencies still get access to this information and may raise a concern. We believe this provides a balance between transparency, individuals privacy and register integrity.

      Link to this comment