Business owners, beware of scams
Everyday consumers aren't the only ones targeted by scam artists running fake foreign lotteries, sending scam emails about a so-called approved loan or making phony pitches for supposedly free trial offers.
Small-business owners and corporations are getting hit by solicitations for preparing so-called required corporate records. The fake fee is $125 or more for preparing the documents. A return envelope is often included. The paperwork looks legitimate and resembles something that might come from a state office.
It's nothing but hooey. Don't pay the fee.
“They make it very easy for someone to part with their $125,” warned Barbara Dobb, a certified public accountant at Dobb & Sager CPAs in Commerce Township, Mich.
Michigan does not require businesses to file corporate records, only annual reports or annual statements, which can be done online directly to the State of Michigan, said Steve Arwood, director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Arwood warns businesses to disregard the deceptive notices. Some notices could appear to be issued by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs — Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau.
Some accountants worry that a small-business owner could wrongly believe that the business might be shut down by the government if the business doesn't comply.
Dobb said her firm received one of the solicitations in early August. We've heard reports of church leaders and sorority sisters getting similar forms. So, if you received something in the mail because of some corporate affiliation, read it very carefully before sending any money.
Regulators say similar solicitations are hitting small-business owners in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts and Texas, among others.
The concern is that a small-business owner who is busy juggling many duties could be tricked into thinking that a state government agency is requiring yet another form and fee.
One solicitation in Michigan lists a Lansing address. The woman who answered the phone said she could not answer media questions or give a company statement.
The form that I saw included “Instructions for Completing the Annual Corporate Records Form.” Dig further into the form and the print does say, “Corporate Records Service is not a government agency and does not have or contract with any government agency to provide this service.”
CPAs across Michigan are sending email blasts to warn clients who might not read that form carefully. Sometimes the fee is $125, $150, $175 or $239 for completing and submitting those so-called annual corporate records.
Some CPAs compare this latest round of solicitations to those fake e-mail alerts from the IRS around tax season. Don't open those either.
What's unsettling is that the letters could arrive at a time, maybe in the late summer or fall, when many small-business owners would not be meeting with their accountants and might send the money before questioning the fee.
“There's zero requirement to fill that out and pay that money,” said Stella Moulton, CPA and tax manager for Gordon Advisors in Troy.
“Ignore it. Shred it,” she said.
Susan Tompor is the personal finance columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Reach her at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lexus sport coupe has youthful appeal, power
- Kings Family Restaurants sold to California firm
- GetGo to hire 300 workers
- Mylan raises bid for fellow drugmaker; Perrigo says ‘no’
- DeVry shift to online classes prompts closing of Pittsburgh campus
- Pittsburgh union serving TV, film production looking for lots of help
- Oil at $65 could free 500,000 barrels from shale ‘fracklog’
- California drought may be felt in Pittsburgh restaurants, groceries
- Profit down at First Niagara
- Retailers vie for workers in tightening labor market
- Pittsburgh conservation center named for longtime leader Gerace