A company called Corporate Records Service is drawing the ire of consumer protection watchdogs in several states for mailing deceptive solicitations to businesses that officials say are intended to resemble government documents.
Indiana's Director of Consumer Protections calls it a "scam." As she told Lexington, Kentucky's WKYT-TV, Indiana is one of nearly a dozen states to be hit by Corporate Records Service's document deception.
What should small business owners look out for?
Official-Looking Documents Designed to Look Real
Though the exact wording of the solicitation seems to vary by state, in each instance Corporate Records Service mails documents pertaining to a business entity's annual minutes.
These documents are official-looking and suggest that businesses are required to file the documents -- which in Texas were titled "Annual Minutes Records Form" -- and pay a $125 fee to comply with their state's law.
But in fact, as noted by the Texas Secretary of State in a warning to businesses about the scam, Texas businesses are not obligated to file any such statement. In each instance, the return address given is in the state's capital city, adding to the illusion of being official government documents.
- Need legal advice on how your small business should operate? Consult with an experienced business attorney about your options.
How to Recognize Official Documents
In its warning about the records scam, the Oregon Secretary of State's office noted that all official government correspondence contain will feature an image of the state seal, the name of the department, and a phone number that can (and should) be called.
A U.S. postal inspector adds that those who have questions about purportedly official documents can call their state's attorney general's office or check with the local Better Business Bureau to make sure they are not being scammed.
In fact, the current listing for Corporate Records Service on the BBB's website includes an alert from the Illinois Secretary of State advising businesses not to reply to the company's solicitations.
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