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Secretary of State Mollis Alerts Small Businesses about Possible Mail Scam

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is warning Rhode Island businesses not to fall prey to an apparent mail scam that could cost them hundreds of dollars.

The mailing would look like an official document from the secretary of state’s office and implies recipients must pay a filing fee of up to $225 or risk fine, lawsuits and loss of their company’s legal corporate status.

“I want to be clear. We have not mailed forms recently. If you receive something that doesn’t seem quite right, check with us first,” said Mollis. “Failure to submit the document and pay the fee will not jeopardize your company’s standing with us.”

The problem has already surfaced in Colorado and New York, where the state attorney general estimates 11,000 businesses have been hit to the tune of more than $1 million. Mollis learned about the problem through the National Association of Secretaries of State, where he serves on the executive board.

“We don’t know if the mailings have hit Rhode Island yet, but we have an obligation to share this information with the public before anyone is victimized,” said Mollis, who has taken several steps to alert his customers including posting a warning on his website and distributing an e-alert.

The timing appears to be trying to capitalize on the fact that for-profit corporations in many states, including Rhode Island, are required to submit annual reports to the secretary of state’s office around this time of year.

In New York the notice comes from the “Corporate Records Compliance Office.” In Colorado, the mailing from the “Corporate Control Unit” is titled “Periodic Report Directors/Shareholders.”

In addition to asking for a variety of information about the company, the form even cites state law and make references to the secretary of state’s office.

The document from Colorado threatens, “Each reporting unit that fails or refuses to deliver to the secretary of state a periodic report for filing on or before the due date prescribed by (law) is subject to a penalty…”

In Rhode Island, the secretary of state’s office oversees issuing and maintaining Articles of Incorporation and other legal documents for about 60,000 corporations and limited liability companies in Rhode Island.

Mollis hopes Rhode Island companies that receive the notice will contact his office at 222-3040 or corporations@sos.ri.gov.

Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote, helping businesses grow and making government more open. For more information about the programs and services the Secretary of State offers Rhode Islanders, visit www.sos.ri.gov.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293 or cbarnett@sos.ri.gov

Related links

Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State

Online: http://www.sos.ri.gov/

Release date: 04-11-2011

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