Checks and balances and watchdogs and warnings are in vogue right now.
A public sick of reckless pursuit of profits is looking to see a more responsible business world that takes its customers seriously. The role of the Financial Services Authority is in the spotlight like never before.
But what’s more fundamentally worrying as a businessman than companies behaving badly is the idea that you could be dealing with a company, happily trading along, and then discovering that like Macavity the cat – they’re just not there. You think of identity theft as an issue for credit card holders who suddenly discover that their records claim they’ve been on a spending spree round New York. But it’s increasingly becoming a more serious issue as people set up fake businesses using fake names and trading histories
So whose job is it to crack down on this? The amount of information available and the ease of access that the internet provides means that the Companies House business register has come under fire for the issue.
But Companies House isn’t a watchdog or an enforcement agency. Quite reasonably they point out that they’re required by law to take applications at face value. So although it seems bizarre, there’s very little anyone can do to stop someone digging up your details on the internet and starting a company – as you.
What this needs is more vigilance from us all to keep control of our own information, rather than assuming some kind of central authority will just take care of everything.
The cat’s already out of the bag on digital media – the world is already awash with information.
And whether this makes things better or worse, we’ve all got to accept that the world has changed and find a new way to do business within it.