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Action Line: Beware of third parties offering to be a go-between with the government

A reader: I received a letter from a company called Corporate Compliance Center. The return address is 2740 Fulton Ave., Ste. 023, Sacramento, CA 95821, with the phone number 916-480-9006. They want me to pay for them to file my annual minutes to the California Secretary of State. The forms look very official and they want me to pay $150. Is this legitimate?

Action Line: Thank you for providing me with the company information. In checking BBB.org, we found that Compliance Filings Inc., also doing business as Corporate Compliance Center, has an “F” rating with BBB. On its website, www.compliancefilings.com, the company says it also offers corporate compliance, fictitious business name renewal, U.S. Patent renewal and U.S. trademark renewal services.

The Secretary of State’s Office has been advised that solicitation letters are being sent to California businesses encouraging them to comply with their California Corporations Code filing obligations by submitting fees and documents to a third party rather than by filing directly with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The solicitations request that a fee and a completed form be submitted in order for the business to comply with applicable California or other law. The solicitations tend to have one or more of the following characteristics:

▪ Appear similar to a Secretary of State Statement of Information form.

▪ Contain an official–looking seal.

▪ Quote a specific statute or other law on the form to be filled out and returned.

▪ Imply that failing to return the form and pay the requested fee may place the entity in legal jeopardy, or might cause the entity’s filings with the California Secretary of State to be in default or noncompliant status.

▪ Contain a reference to a “file number,” “Corp Number,” “Corporation Number,” or “Control Number” that does not match the number assigned to the entity by the California Secretary of State.

▪ Reference or quote Corporations Code sections inapplicable to the type of entity being solicited, such as Code sections applicable to corporations when soliciting a limited liability company.

▪ Reference an “annual fee” or “annual payment” rather than a filing fee and that is in excess of the filing fee for a Statement of Information.

▪ Provide an estimated processing time for “minutes” to be prepared and mailed to the entity.

▪ Indicate the submitted information will be treated as private and confidential.

The Secretary of State’s Office advises these solicitations are not being made by it or any other government entity. Although a business entity can use an intermediary to submit filings and fees, no business is required to go through another company in order to file its documents with the office.

California businesses that receive fraudulent solicitation letters or that have paid the company and received a fraudulent certificate can file a complaint at BBB.org and at the Secretary of State’s Office, www.sos.ca.gov/notary/file-complaint.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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