Acra must verify information in company registrations

Since May 9, I have been receiving mail addressed to a certain company at my home address.

This company does not belong to me or anyone related to me.

The street, house number and postal code were a match to my address, but there was also a unit number indicated. As I live in a landed property, there is no sub-unit and so the address was falsified.

I checked the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) website and was shocked to find out that there was indeed an active company registered to my address, and even a map link indicating my house.

The mail I received even included official mail from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras). Concerned that creditors may soon turn up at my doorstep, I lodged a police report, as well as a report to Iras and Acra.

Registering a company with false information is in contravention of the Business Names Registration Act 2014, and any person who does so is subject to punitive measures.

I was pleasantly surprised when the police called me within three hours of my online report, despite this being a non-urgent matter.

In contrast, despite providing documentary evidence and the firm's unique entity number to Acra on May 9, I received a response only on May 25.

I had also inquired about how a company could be registered without proof of occupancy - either NRIC details or some tenancy agreement - and was told that the onus was on the applicant to provide accurate information.

Furthermore, despite assurances from Acra that the company address has been changed, I have continued to receive letters.

I have also not received a satisfactory reply as to why Acra does not require documentation to register a company. Is one able to register a company using just any address?

Verifying information in new company registrations should be part of Acra's practices; it is a simple matter of scanning and uploading relevant documents.

It is not merely the inconvenience of receiving unwanted mail that is troublesome, but also the sense of violation when an irresponsible or dishonest person uses my address falsely with impunity.

Yvonne Loh Su Ming (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2018, with the headline 'Acra must verify information in company registrations'. Subscribe