State warns businesses about “official” reporting scam

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Department of Consumer Protection is warning businesses across Connecticut about a scam requiring payment for an “Annual Records Statement”.

Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Attorney General George Jepsen say the forms say they are sent by the Division of Corporate Services seeking a $150 payment for an Annual Records Statement.

“This scam attempts to collect money from companies that need to comply with a State reporting requirement,” Harris said. “There is absolutely no value in responding to this fake mailing and we urge companies to ignore it; do not send payment.”

Officials say this deceptive solicitation has an “official” look to it and references a Connecticut state law. Scams like this tell the recipient to send a fee, which is usually much higher than the true fee, for services that are not needed.

“My office has received about a dozen complaints from businesses in Connecticut that have received this fraudulent mailing,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “While our agencies are investigating this, I urge businesses and consumers to stay vigilant and to make very sure that any unsolicited requests for payments — whether they are suspicious-looking invoices or forms such as this that appear to reference legal requirements — are truly official before sending payment.”

Click to see a copy of the Annual Records Scam Form

Some “official” scam solicitations do not include headings that appear to come from the state, but include details and warnings about penalties and fines that cause recipients to believe they are real. Officials say mailings also come in official looking envelopes with warnings about fines and penalties.

To avoid being defrauded by bogus mailings, Commissioner Harris and Secretary of the State Merrill offer the following advice:

  • Review the fine print. Many, like the one in this example, will state that it “does not officially represent the State of Connecticut or other government entity,” or something similar. However, not all fake solicitations include this disclosure, so it’s always best to confirm with the appropriate official source, especially before sending any payment.
  • Before initiating payment, verify with the person in your company responsible for official reporting.
  • Be wary of mailings from companies with the word “compliance” in their name.
  • Simply because an email address contains the .us designation does not mean it is from the U.S. or any state government.

“If you are ever unsure about the legitimacy of a business filing notice you receive, please check with my office at 860-509-6003 or go online at www.concord-sots.ct.gov if you need information on corporate filings. We are ready and eager to help any Connecticut business owner,” Secretary Merrill said.

Commissioner Harries encourages anyone who receives an “invoice” or other request for payment for unordered, undelivered or unsolicited services to notify the Department of Consumer Protection at dcp.frauds@ct.gov or call 1-800-842-2649.

An investigation into the mailing is currently underway.

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