Secretary of State’s Office Warns of New ‘Certificate of Good Standing’ Scam Targeting Tennessee Businesses

 

Secretary of State Tre Hargett warned Tennessee business owners in a video message about a new scam targeting businesses with a deceptive mailer from a company called Business Document Center incorrectly implying that businesses need a Certificate of Good Standing.

“Unfortunately, our Division of Business and Charitable Organizations and I were recently made aware of yet another company sending out misleading mailers trying to take advantage of Tennessee business owners,” Secretary Hargett said. “These mailers imply that businesses must have a Certificate of Good Standing to operate in Tennessee. A Certificate of Good Standing is not even something that our office offers. What is called a Certificate of Good Standing in some other states is a Certificate of Existence in Tennessee, and neither are necessary to do business in our great state.”

This most recent mailer, titled 2022 Certificate of Status Request Form, tries to get Tennessee business owners to pay $87.25 for the Business Document Center to request a Certificate of Good Standing on their behalf, according to a press release by Hargett’s office.

A Certificate of Good Standing is not a document available from the Secretary of State’s office, the press release notes. The fee the Business Document Center is charging is four times more than the Secretary of State’s office charges for an equivalent document offered, a Certificate of Existence.

The mailer and the Business Document Center are not affiliated with or authorized by the Secretary of State’s office in any way, according to the press release.

“I encourage Tennessee business owners to be wary of any mailings they get from third-party companies that say they will work with my office on your behalf,” said Secretary Hargett. “These scammers are charging excessive amounts for something that many businesses will never need and if they did do, can be easily obtained for only $20 through our office.”

Businesses may wish to obtain a Certificate of Existence in certain circumstances, such as a loan closing or other business transaction, the press release notes. However, they are not required to do so to form a new business or to conduct business.

This recent warning to Tennessee businesses comes just weeks after Secretary Hargett released a previous video message warning businesses of a resurfaced scam by deceptive mailers from a company under two names: Tennessee Certificate Service and TN Certificate of Existence Filing Company.

As previously reported by The Tennessee Star, the statement said the scam mailer, titled 2022 Certificate of Existence Request, had been sent to businesses across the state. It stated 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.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.

 

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