We have periodically reported about identify theft scams that focus on individuals. Business owners are also susceptible to these scams.
The Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS) announced what is referred to as an Annual Records Statement scam. The target companies are recently-formed PA businesses that receive a solicitation from a bogus company calling itself “Division of Corporate Services – Compliance Division.” The letter urges the business to complete a form with officer and director information and return with a fee of $150, payable to Division of Corporate Services, by a certain date in order to “fulfill your corporation’s records requirements per Pennsylvania Statute.”
The DOS has reported that this is a SCAM. There is not a company registered to do business in PA by the name of “Division of Corporate Services.” The address used by this fake company is that of a UPS Store located in Harrisburg. The scammers appear to have purchased company formation data from the Department of State and are targeting newly-formed businesses, many of which are not corporations. The mailings often contain misspellings and incorrect information. PA business corporations are required to keep records relating to accounts, minutes and shares. However, it is not required that these records be filed with the DOS or with a private company.
The DOS has also reported of post card solicitations that are being mailed to PA businesses from a bogus company calling itself “Business Compliance Division.” The post card urges the company to “call immediately” to “avoid potential fees and penalties.” The number (1-855-530-2615) leads the caller to speak to a representative of the alleged company, who seeks a credit card payment of $100 over the phone to procure a “certificate of existence” in order to comply with “Commonwealth regulations governing new enterprises.” This is also a SCAM. Companies which are validly formed have already received a stamped copy of the public organic document filed with the DOS, indicating the entity number, date filed and name of the current Secretary of the Commonwealth. There is no “certificate of existence” required for a newly-filed company in order to maintain compliance with Pennsylvania law.
The DOS has been made aware of solicitations that are being mailed to PA businesses from a company calling itself “Pennsylvania Council for Corporations.” This mailing urges corporations to file information and send payment in the amount of $125.00 by a certain date in order to maintain proper records. This is not a legitimate company. The DOS is alerting all PA business entities of this deceptive solicitation to prevent PA businesses from completing the form and sending payment to a mailing center post office box address by the deadline on the form.
Additionally, please keep in mind that any official notices sent to businesses by the Pennsylvania Department of State or the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office will contain the letterhead and/or contact information for the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations. Please contact the Bureau at (717) 787-1057 or firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions or concerns regarding these solicitations.
Whereas we have always recommended that any communications from any tax jurisdiction be immediately sent to the business’s tax professional, it appears that such advice needs to be broadened to include “any communication from any state or local jurisdiction should be immediately forwarded to the business’s tax professional”.
If you want to discuss your tax planning and tax preparation concerns with an experienced tax professional, we invite you to call 610-594-2601 today to make an appointment at our Exton PA CPA office to discuss your situation. You can also schedule a consultation at Click Here.