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Beware "Secretary of State" Scams

It is that time of year when most states require the annual renewal of a company's registration with the state. Unfortunately, it is also a time when I get calls or emails from clients who have received a call or something in the mail that they find suspicious.

Scam companies take on official-sounding names similar to the Georgia Secretary of State, such as "The Georgia Office of Corporate Records." You receive a postcard warning you that, to avoid penalties, you are required to obtain "Corporate Annual Resolutions" or a "Certificate of Existence" for a fee of $200 paid to this company (by your personal credit card of course).

Georgia does not require that you complete "Corporate Annual Resolutions" or that you get a "Certificate of Existence" each year. Georgia simply requires that each year you renew your filing and pay an annual fee of about $25-$50 (depending on the type of corporate entity). This can be paid online with the Secretary of State. (The deadline to complete your annual registration for this year is April 1, 2018).

Depending upon the type of corporate entity and the state you are registered in, certain information about your company will be placed online for all the world to see. In some states, this includes not only a mailing address (to send those scam postcards to) but also a phone number. With this information available to the public, these scam services are reaching out to companies registered in states across the country, not just Georgia.

If you have any concerns about something that arrives in the mail or a call you have received, contact your attorney to verify its authenticity. Also, secretaries of state will often put out advisory notices on their web sites regarding known scams.

Wendy W. Kraby, Attorney

Miles Hansford & Tallant, LLC

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