Professional identity theft: What to do if you’re a victim

We sometimes receive calls from members who report that their professional identity has been stolen.

The facts reported are similar. CPAs receive a call from a banker or vendor asking if:

  • company Y is a client of theirs, or
  • if they issued a report on company Y’s financial statements on a given date.

Unfortunately, neither the Order nor the syndic can intervene in this situation, as it is not a case of illegal practice or unauthorized use of the designation.

Our recommendations

You should make three phone calls, namely to:

  • your professional liability insurer, to report the situation in case a lawsuit is filed against you;
  • the police, so they can conduct an investigation; and
  • a lawyer, to seek legal advice and obtain answers to the following questions:
    • How can you dissociate yourself from the report and financial statements that the person who used your identity issued to those concerned and to the client?
    • How can you ensure the documents issued under false pretenses are recovered and all copies destroyed?
    • What other steps can be taken to protect all third parties (and yourself, by extension) and ensure they do not rely on these documents?
    • If you know the person who used your identity, is it possible to send this individual a formal notice?

Members or firms should establish a clear policy on their employees’ use of their stationery, company name and electronic signatures.