PROVIDENCE, RI – Prompted by a third wave of direct mail solicitations targeting Rhode Island businesses, Secretary of State of State A. Ralph Mollis is once again reminding companies to be wary of notices from "Rhode Island Corporate Compliance (RICC)."
The official-looking letter cites a state law that requires corporations to keep records of accounts, minutes and shareholders and urges recipients to submit an "Annual Disclosure Statement" along with a "Document Fee" of $125. It even gives recipients a deadline.
But Mollis says that state law doesn't require business entities that are registered in Rhode Island to file those records with his office or any other state agency.
"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.
Hundreds of business owners have called the Secretary of State's office with questions about the notices this year. Many had already mailed a check to RICC. Ken Fang of Engitek Inc. in Warwick was one of them.
"Because the deadline they gave on the form was only a few days away, we cut a check right away. I didn't read the notice carefully until it was too late. We fell for it," said Fang.
He has advice for other businesses. "Check everything. I mean, if there's a number, call. If you even suspect it might not be what it seems, call the Secretary of State's office."
Mollis reported the situation to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which wants anyone who paid the $125 "Document Fee" to fax their name, the name of their business, their contact info including the mailing address for their business, a phone number and documentation such as the notice, the envelope the notice came in and their canceled check if they have it to (651) 994-3259.
Tens of thousands of for-profit corporations and limited liability companies could have received the letter so far, said Mollis. Nearly 60,000 are registered 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.
Mollis urges anyone with questions about the direct mail solicitation to contact his office at 222-3040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293