Tennessee Secretary of State Hargett: Watch Out for Mailers Claiming Business Owners Must Obtain a ‘Tennessee Certificate of Existence’


Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett warned businesses in a video message Friday about a recently-resurfaced scam. Businesses have begun receiving deceptive mailers from a company under two names: Tennessee Certificate Service and TN Certificate of Existence Filing Company.

“Our Division of Business and Charitable Organizations and I personally have heard of multiple complaints from business owners across Tennessee about these misleading mailers. We have seen scams like this before, with similar deceptive language that implies that businesses must have a Certificate of Existence to complete its formation or to fully operate in the state,” said Secretary Hargett. “This is not the case. Unfortunately, businesses who order a Certificate of Existence through these scammers may be paying an exorbitant amount for something that is totally unnecessary or would only cost $20 through our office.”

The statement said the scam mailer, titled 2022 Certificate of Existence Request, had been sent to businesses across the state. It states that every Tennessee business requires a Certificate of Existence (which, Hargett said most businesses do not actually need) and the business needs to pay a fee ranging $83 or $175.50 for a third-party company to step in and complete the paperwork on the business’s behalf.

The mailer states the certificate is part of the business entity’s registration process, “A Certificate of Existence certifies that your Tennessee business is in existence, is authorized to transact business in the state and complies with all state requirements.”

Businesses can obtain a Certificate of Existence for $20 either by phone, mail, or online. Hargett said, “You do not always need to obtain a Certificate of Existence. But if you do, please let the department of state assist you.”

The statement added “The mailer and organization are not affiliated with or authorized by the Secretary of State’s Office in any way. Businesses may wish to obtain a Certificate of Existence in certain circumstances, such as a loan closing or other business transaction. However, they are not required to do so as a matter of course during the business formation process.”

It concluded that Hargett is encouraging business owners to call the Division of Business and Charitable Organizations by phone or email if they receive a questionable mailer or want to know more about obtaining a Certificate of Existence. The statement did not include how many have become victims of the scam.

Watch the warning:

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Morgan Nicole Veysey is a reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow her on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Secretary of State Tre Hargett” by Tiguarda. CC BY-SA 4.0. Background Photo “Mailboxes” by Max Pixel.






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