PROOF (for ‘Protected Online Filing’) is a free service provided by Companies House in the UK that lets you protect your company from unauthorised changes to your records. It prevents the filing of certain paper forms, including:
- changes to your registered office address
- changes to your officers (appointments, resignations or personal details)
- your annual return
It’s important that your company’s records are correct because they’re sometimes used to check its legitimacy if you apply for a loan.
Fraudsters are known to hijack a company by changing the details of the company’s directors and registered office. This leaves the company vulnerable to further fraud.
Companies House deals with around 50 to 100 cases of corporate identity theft every month.
To see how PROOF could be beneficial to your business, Companies House have released a short video explaining how the system works. You can view the video on YouTube here
To join you just need to be registered for online filing. Once your company has joined PROOF, Companies House will accept your forms by online submission only, making it impossible for fraudsters to file paper documents against your name.
HOW TO JOIN THE PROOF ONLINE FILING SERVICE
You can join by heading to Companies House website, or clicking on this link which will take you direct to the login page. You will need your company details and password to access the PROOF application.
These moves to protect businesses from fraudulent activity follow the highest reported cases of identity theft in the UK in 2016 – nearly 173,000 cases.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH OUR DOCUMENT STORAGE/DISPOSAL?
At Waste Paper Solutions we use cloud technology and digital files to eliminate paper filing errors and streamline our operation. With password controlled files and documents stored remotely, we never have to worry about security or files being accidentally ‘lost’.
Of course it is not always realistic or possible to go completely paperless, and in these instances you must have procedures in place to store and dispose of sensitive information securely. Once a file/document no longer has any use it must be disposed of within a reasonable time frame. The best way to securely destroy any paper document is to have it shredded.
You can do this yourself using a desk side machine, or you can use a professional contractor such as Waste Paper Solutions. We will charge you roughly the same as the cost of a desk side shredder to take it away and dispose of everything with no risk. Using a professional company means you will also be provided with certification – this will show when and what you have disposed. In the event of any ISO audit or investigation by The Environment Agency you MUST be able to produce on demand Waste Transfer Notes. (If you do not know what a Waste Transfer Note is, you can read our guide here). Failure to provide evidence of proper disposal of ALL commercial waste can lead to prosecution and a very hefty fine.
But it doesn’t end there – as a business owner you are also legally required to recycle as much of your commercial waste as possible. This is not an ‘ideal’, it’s the law. Shredding documents yourself poses a problem as you are still left with the ‘shreds’ to dispose of. You may think that once the paper has been shredded it is no longer an issue, but throwing away these shreds to landfill will land you in hot water with the Environment Agency. Similarly, recycling them at you local recycling centre is illegal. Both scenarios could end up with your company facing a fine and/or prosecution. By not using a licensed waste contractor you are creating unnecessary problems – You have no record of waste disposed and no paper trail to prove you have taken care of your waste securely and responsibly.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO ENSURE YOUR BUSINESS IS SAFEGUARDED?
In order to operate within the law and safeguard your company’s security, use a licensed waste disposal contractor. You can find these online by doing a local Google search or even contacting your local council to see who is operating in your area. Just ensure they are licensed by The Environment Agency (you can check the online database here). You can also call Waste Paper Solutions on 0203 0867843 to discuss your options. We operate a national service and provide all certification to ensure you are covered.