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CALIFORNIA BUSINESSES ALERT – MISLEADING CERTIFICATE OF STATUS SOLICITATIONS

California businesses should be on alert that a certification of your entity’s status, also known as the Certificate of Status, can only be issued by the Secretary of State, who is the official custodian of business entity records for the state of California.

Fraudulent Letters from California State Corporations

Letters are being sent to businesses registered with the Secretary of State directing them to submit $49.50, respond by a certain date, complete a form, and send the money and documentation to a private entity named “California State Corporations.”  According to the letter, California State Corporations will provide a “certificate of status.”  These “certificates of status” are fraudulent because only the Secretary of State can issue a Certificate of Status.  California State Corporations has no affiliation or authorization to act on behalf of the State of California or the Secretary of State and is illegally issuing fraudulent Certificates of Status for entities registered with the California Secretary of State.

These solicitations are not being made by the California Secretary of State’s office and are not being made by or on behalf of any government entity.  Although a business entity can use an intermediary to submit filings, request a certificate of status, and pay fees to the Secretary of State, no business is required to go through another private entity in order to obtain documents or certificates from the Secretary of State’s office and no private entity can issue these documents.  An example of the fraudulent “certificate of status” request form can be obtained at http://bpd.cdn.sos.ca.gov/be/forms/customer-alert-solicitations-certificate-of-status-example-form.pdf.

Action for Fraudulent Letters

California businesses that receive one of these fraudulent solicitation letters or that have paid the company and received a fraudulent certificate should submit a written complaint along with the entire solicitation (including the solicitation letter, the outer and return envelopes, and all related documents available, and a copy of the fraudulent certificate) to the California Attorney General, Public Inquiry Unit, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, California 94244-2550.  A complaint form, which can be completed online and printed to mail, is available on the California Attorney General’s website at www.oag.ca.gov/consumers.

If you have questions regarding Certificates of Status, including guidance on obtaining an official Certificate of Status, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.