« The Fannie and Freddie Fiasco | Main | Off To Wyoming »

Scam Alert: Board of Business Compliance

This may not be of much interest to regular readers, but is being posted so future recipients of this letter may find this article when searching in Google. 

I got this in the mail the other day (click to enlarge)
Board_of_business_compliance_scam

It is laid out to mirror the typical format of a state annual report or business license renewal form.  It purports to be from a government-sounding "Board of Business Compliance."  The layout and wording is very similar to the California State required annual report form, as is the $125 fee the letter claims is "now due."  Only in the really fine print near the bottom right does it admit to being a business solicitation. 

Beware.  Despite all their efforts to fool you, filling out this form and filing this $125 fee is not required by any government agency.   I am not sure if you pay money to this group whether you will actually receive any services (I did not pay).  But I will observe that there is absolutely no way that a third party could create a legally meaningful set of minutes for your company based on the information in this form.  Remember, though, that it is important for small corporations to keep their minutes in order -- but I am pretty sure this is not the best way to do it.

Business that must be obtained this way is not worth having, at least in my book. 

Postscript:  One might ask, how can anyone fall for this?  The biggest problem is the government itself.  Doing business in 12 states, 20 counties, and a number of large municipalities, I get literally a hundred "legitimate" forms like this requiring a $50-$150 filing fee from government institutions all the time.  This form, at first, looks more legitimate than say, the application for egg license I get from two states (which are in fact real government requirements). 

PPS:  Don't even get me started on yellow page vendors, directory listing providers, and companies claiming your URL registration is expiring.

UPDATE: Apparently one of the commenters included contact information at the California AG.  The AG's office has written me asking to have comments and concerns about this issue routed to a different address.  I think poor Mr. Wayne was deluged with a bunch of complaints.  Here is what they sent me as their preferred alternative contact information:

 

Complaints may be filed with the California Attorney General's Office by mail, telephone, fax, the Internet, or email:
 
MAILING ADDRESS:
 
Attorney General's Office
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

TELEPHONE:   1-800-952-5225 (Toll-free in CA) or (916) 322-3360
 
FAX:   (916) 323-5341

WEBSITE:   http://ag.ca.gov/consumers
 
EMAIL:   piu@doj.ca.gov

Posted on July 23, 2008 at 01:59 PM | Permalink

Comments

I hope you notified the Arizona attorney general. That seems like a transparent attempt to defraud business owners.

Posted by: jsalvati | Jul 23, 2008 2:09:07 PM

I received the identical letter today. Same address and everything.

Posted by: Katie | Jul 23, 2008 3:36:47 PM

Thank you for posting this scam! For small operations such as mine, it is easy to fall into this type of trap. I appreciate it. You pointed out at the bottom of the disclosure that:

This product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any government agency and this offer is not being made by an agency of the government...

Posted by: Choi Lee | Jul 24, 2008 10:15:35 AM

Please note that anyone in the State of California that receives this letter should make a copy of it for their files and send the original documents to the:

Attorney Generals Office
Attn: Howard Wayne
110 West A St. # 1100
San Diego, CA 92101

They are investigating this company and will be taking action, so the more information the Attorney Generals Office receives - the better. If you wish to contact the department concerned the phone number is; 619-525-4244.

Hope this helps!

Posted by: Robert Harris | Jul 24, 2008 3:25:11 PM

I received the same notice today, in Colorado. My business is registered in CA. Amazingly enough, this notice was forwarded to me by my attorney in Denver!! Thanks to the poster for alerting us to the scam!

Posted by: Bonnie | Jul 24, 2008 4:52:58 PM

I received the same notice today, in Colorado. My business is registered in CA. Amazingly enough, this notice was forwarded to me by my attorney in Denver!! Thanks to the poster for alerting us to the scam!

Posted by: Bonnie | Jul 24, 2008 4:54:39 PM

I got the same letter this week. It looks similar to CA forms and has our corp number listed. I was trying to find information about the form on CA website and came across your website. Thanks for the alert!

Posted by: DEBBIE | Jul 25, 2008 7:14:57 AM

I received one today in AZ and called the AZ Corp. Comm. and they suggested that I contact the State Attorney General, which I did and filed a formal complaint. These people are dispicable! Small business is this country's backbone! There are always low-lifes out there and these are just another! Thanks for the notice!

Posted by: John R. | Jul 25, 2008 12:10:08 PM

Thank you for sharing this information, I just recieved this as well and did a quick search for this "business" and found your site, pointing out the scam!

Posted by: Karen A. | Jul 26, 2008 12:13:06 PM

We received this notice for both of our companies and figured it might be bogus. Your site helped confirm. Thanks for posting this. I will be sending it into the Attorney General.

Posted by: Kellie | Jul 28, 2008 6:45:45 AM

our business just rec'd a letter and i had to do some investigation and found this was in fact a scam and thanks for your website i was able to verify just that
i read the small print located in the right corner which says exactly what i assumed this is not government related

sabrina
administration
owenscfs.com

Posted by: SABRINA | Jul 28, 2008 11:48:06 AM

Our business just received the letter today. I needed the number to this department. Googled Board of Business Compliance for CA and this was one of the top search results. Thanks for the alert!!!

Posted by: Bev | Jul 28, 2008 2:31:47 PM

Thanks for posting this; confirmed my suspicions.

Posted by: britt | Jul 29, 2008 8:45:59 AM

I recieved the same letter last week. Almost put a stamp on with the money enclosed!
Thank you for keeping an eye out and letting all of us know about tricky thieves.

Posted by: GB | Jul 29, 2008 10:14:23 AM

We too received the same notice and I became suspicious that it looks very similar to the Secretary of State (CA) invoice and they were charging more... I was researching them and came across your alert, Thank you!!! A poor economy seems to bring out the worst in people, they should be ashamed!

Posted by: anita | Jul 29, 2008 10:45:15 AM

Thanks for posting this! the business I work for received this letter today and i wasn't sure what to think... I had never seen a letter like this so i decided to research it. I'm in Phoenix, AZ

Here is the AZ attorney general's contact info

1275 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
602.542.5025
800.352.8431 (toll free)
Fax 602.542.4085

Posted by: Josef | Jul 29, 2008 12:46:57 PM

I received this letter in todays mail. I contacted my accountant so that they could send out a mass e-mail and I plan to contact the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce as well.

Posted by: Pat | Jul 29, 2008 3:18:41 PM

I just received this last week and it seemed bogus so I checked the web to find out about the "Board of Business Compliance" and found your site. Thank you for the info and for the direction on where to send it (AG's office) so this company can be investigated.

Posted by: Brandon | Jul 30, 2008 8:31:19 AM

I am in Phoenix & received this this letter. Thanks for confirming the scam as I suspected. It didn't even appear legitimate to me. The adress is one of the mailbox stores in Phoenix. The bottom paragaraph says (d) this is a salutation for the order of service... Must be from one of the "we doan need no stinkng anglish langusih lesoms" crowd!!!

Posted by: john | Jul 30, 2008 9:35:12 AM

I received the letter today and supected it as a scam. Thanks for posting this as it affirmed my suspicion.

Posted by: odm | Jul 30, 2008 11:35:30 AM

THANK YOU FROM ARIZONA! I called our Corporation Commission and they advised me to contact the Attorney Generals office. The AZ AG sent out a scam alert on this last week. You can sign up for email scam alerts from their office on their web site which I will now do as I nearly fell for this one.

Posted by: Sherry | Jul 30, 2008 11:41:31 AM

We received this letter at our main office in Massachusetts. We have a small operation in Arizona and are less familiar with Arizona state government forms. Your post was what confirmed my suspicions that it was a fraud. The vagueness of the “agency’s” name is what gave me second thoughts. I suspect that if they had included the word Arizona in the title, I would not have done a Google search, and would have paid the $125. Thank you for the post.

Posted by: Steve M | Jul 30, 2008 12:21:15 PM

Thank you!! I just received the same notice; We have a Nevada corporation, but registered to do business in California. I was just getting ready to write the check...so glad that I googled the name of the document.

Posted by: Suzanne | Jul 30, 2008 12:35:28 PM

Thanks -- my "gut feeling" was that it was a very odd "bill." I'm glad I followed my feeling and checked this out. This entity should be shut down and prosecuted. It is very deceiving and unethical.

Posted by: Melidee | Jul 30, 2008 3:47:10 PM

I received this official looking document in the mail today. As an "alien" doing business in this country, even if I had read the fine print, it would still be confusing figuring out the significance of "solicitation" as is practiced in this country. A big thank you for putting this on google!

Posted by: Jolin | Jul 30, 2008 8:08:21 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.