Secretary Of State Warns Of A New Scam Targetting Small Business Owners

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Secretary of State Jena Griswold speaks to a reporter in her office, Jan. 30, 2019.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office is warning business owners of a new scam targeting small businesses.

The office said it has received dozens of reports within the last few days of misleading solicitations. The third parties allegedly request extra fees from businesses to file documents, but the Secretary of State’s office has an online filing system and third parties aren’t necessary to complete filings. Most of these third parties target people through the mail.

The latest version of the scam offers businesses a “Certificate of Good Standing” or a “Certificate of Existence” from the Secretary of State’s office for a fee, but anyone can download those from the office’s website for free.

“The Colorado Secretary of State’s office takes pride in having an easy-to-use and affordable business filing system, which is why we are alerting business owners about these dubious solicitations,” Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in a statement.

These scams happen periodically, but regularly uptick near the ends of quarters when businesses have to file documents, Griswold said.

The misleading solicitations also may also offer to file a “Statement Curing Delinquency” or “Periodic Report,” appear similar to a government form or contain a “Customer ID Number” that does not match a number given by a state or federal agency.

“We do not send any type of paperwork to Coloradans,” Griswold said. “We are not sending you a business solicitation so it’s probably not from us.”

Griswold recommends that anytime someone gets mail from what appears to be the Secretary of State’s office, they should read the fine print. Often, it will reveal the mailer was sent by a third-party company that is not associated with the office. If someone is still unsure, Griswold said to call the office directly to verify.

It’s difficult to prosecute the third parties because they often do disclose that they are not a government entity within the fine print. So awareness is the next best step.

“I want to make sure that no Coloradan is being taken advantage of,” Griswold said.