Business Workshop: Don’t fall for records scams

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More and more Pennsylvania businesses are falling victim to a scam that preys on the desire of business owners to make sure their companies’ paperwork complies with the law.

In the past several months, many Pennsylvania businesses have received fraudulent notices from several companies, including the “Pennsylvania Corporate Compliance Company” and “Corporate Records Service.” These notices state that businesses must file certain corporate records, such as shareholder information or corporate meeting minutes, and pay a processing fee of $125 to comply with Pennsylvania law.

The letters arrive either by email or via the postal service and closely resemble official correspondence from government agencies. They usually list a Harrisburg address and contain references to corporate statutes or Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law.

The notices may also include specific information about a company, its products, and its executives. They usually threaten penalties and fines if the business does not submit the documents and pay the fee.

These scams are designed not only to obtain money but to gain private information about the company, which can be far more damaging. For example, a list of a company’s shareholders may allow the scammers to target the shareholders for other scams and harassment, or a copy of the corporate minutes may give scammers access to confidential company information.

Further complicating matters is that many states do have corporate reporting requirements. Pennsylvania, however, does not have an annual reporting requirement for corporations or limited liability companies.

Companies that receive requests for shareholder information or any other corporate records should contact an attorney or the Pennsylvania Department of State to verify the legitimacy of the request.

Fraudulent solicitations should be reported to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.

- Jay R. Mangold, Jr., Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, jrmjr@muslaw.com

Business workshop is a weekly feature from local experts offering tidbits on matters affecting business. To contribute, contact Business Editor Brian Hyslop at bhyslop@post-gazette.com.

 


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