NC Small Businesses Should Ignore Deceptive Letters from Division of Corporate Services

NC Small Businesses Should Ignore Deceptive Letters from Division of Corporate Services
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August 4, 2015

The North Carolina Attorney General's Office and Secretary of State are asking businesses to ignore letters asking them to pay money in order to stay in compliance with state records laws.

Addressed from the Division of Corporate Services, the letters are a Florida-based scam that has duped business owners in several other southern states this year.

Attorney General Roy Cooper and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said that North Carolina business owners have reported getting letters asking them to complete a form and return it with a $150 fee by July 31 to a Raleigh address that is a rented mailbox.

The letters include official-looking seals and titles, and refers to state laws that require small business owners to maintain certain records. Cooper and Marshall said the Division of Corporate Services form does not meet legitimate state reporting requirements.

Cooper's office contacted Annual Business Services and its operator Tate J. Howe and instructed the company to stop sending the misleading mailings. Checks that were send to the rented mailbox will be collected and returned to the businesses from which they were sent.

This isn't the first time a scam of this type hit small businesses. A California company was banned in 2012 from doing business in North Carolina after scamming small businesses out of $90,000.

In a 2007 scam, National Business Registry sent invoices to businesses claiming that they failed to register with the National Corporation Registry and were instructed to pay $487 or their corporation would be dissolved.

"These are sleazy operators who know the letters they are sending out are misleading and nothing more than attempts to scam business owners out of money," Marshall said in a statement. "So if you have any questions at all about your annual report--call us!"

Business owners can check the status of their corporation, limited liability company, or other registered business entity through the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office online at sosnc.com, or by phone at 919-807-2225 or toll-free at 1-888-246-7636.

If you receive a letter from an entity that demands suspicious fees and information for business compliance, contact the North Carolina Attorney General's Office.