PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State of State A. Ralph Mollis is now warning Rhode Island limited liability companies (LLCs) to be wary of a direct mail solicitation from "Rhode Island Corporate Compliance (RICC)." The latest notice comes just two months after the company mailed a similar letter to for-profit corporations.
The official-looking letter cites a state law that requires corporations to keep records of accounts, minutes and the names and addresses of all shareholders and directs recipients to submit an "Annual Disclosure Statement" along with a "Document Fee" of $125 by May 3.
But Mollis says that state law doesn't even require LLCs to keep those records let alone requiring that they be filed with his office or any state agency.
More than 150 business owners have called the Secretary of State's office with questions about the notice. Many had already mailed a check to RICC. Shirley Miller of Able Wood Flooring in Cranston was one of them.
"I only took a quick look at the letter. It looked official so I didn't think twice about writing a check because everything else has gone up this year. Then I had a bad feeling and called the Secretary of State's office," she said. "You know what makes it worse? That money could have gone to charity."
"Too many people have been confused by the mailing. We're assuring them that it did not come from our office," said Mollis, who tracked down the return address on the RICC mailing to a postal box number at a UPS store in downtown Providence.
Mollis reported the situation to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which wants anyone who has paid the $125 "Document Fee" to call (401) 276-8630.
Every one of the more than 27,000 LLCs registered in Rhode Island could have received the letter, said Mollis. RICC mailed a nearly identical letter to as many as 32,000 for-profit corporations earlier this year.
Mollis says LLCs are contacting him because most business entities in Rhode Island have a corporate legal structure that requires filing with his office. In addition to its work with start-ups, the Secretary of State's office also oversees recording commercial liens, registering notaries public and protecting corporate trademarks.
He urges anyone with questions about the direct mail solicitation to contact his office at 222-3040 or email@example.com.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293.