Several of our clients have recently received official-looking letters from an entity called California State Corporations and a few others companies asserting that the California entities are not in compliance with California law. These companies essentially passe themselves off as a branch of the state government where there is actually no affiliation or connection. These solicitations are not being made by the California Secretary of State’s office and are not being made by or on behalf of any governmental entity.
The mailings imply that the entities are either not in compliance or are required to complete enclosed paperwork and return it along with a fee ranging anywhere from$49.50 to $150 for obtaining a Certificate of Status. Please note that business entities are not ordinarily required to obtain a Certificate of Status with the California Secretary of State, unless for a specific transaction-related purpose, such as in commercial real estate financing.
Should you require a Certificate of Status, we an assist you in obtaining this document. Although a business entity can use an intermediary to submit filings, request a certificate of status, and pay fees to our office, no business is required to go through another private entity in order to obtain documents or certificates from the Secretary of State’s office and no private entity can issue these documents. The California Secretary of State only charges $15 for the first certificate and $5 for each additional certificate – NOT the $49.50 this particular scam asserts. Furthermore, the scam claims that obtaining the document will take seven to 10 business days, when turnaround times are currently only 24 to 48 hours.
California businesses that receive one of these fraudulent solicitation letters or that have paid the company and received a fraudulent certificate should submit a written complaint along with the entire solicitation (including the solicitation letter, the outer and return envelopes, and all related documents if available, and a copy of the fraudulent certificate) to the California Attorney General, Public Inquiry Unit, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, California 94244–2550. A complaint form, which can be completed online and printed to mail, is available on the California Attorney General’s website at www.oag.ca.gov/consumers.
Should you receive an official-looking document from a company and you would like to inquire regarding its legitimacy, please get in touch with Evelyn Ginossi at Evelyn@ibvadvisorygroup.com.