State officials warning businesses about ‘certificate of existence’ scam

Updated: Feb. 26, 2020 at 10:05 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s Secretary of State and Attorney General offices are sending a warning to the business community.

Officials said deceptive letters are going around, requesting a $90.50 fee to order certain business documents from the Secretary of State’s Office.

The Secretary of State’s Office received numerous reports of a company using the name ‘MS Certificate Service’ soliciting misleading “2020 Certificate of Existence Request Forms” to businesses throughout Mississippi.

Registered businesses in Mississippi should be aware that they do not have to respond or send payment to the third party, MS Certificate Service, as the solicitation is not sent or authorized by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“Scams like this resurface quite often in an attempt to cheat hardworking, unsuspecting business owners who are doing their best to stay on top of everything,” said Secretary Michael Watson. “Our office takes pride in having an affordable business filing system, and we work hard to make sure no business owner gets taken advantage of by groups like this. We encourage all businesses to be vigilant and report anything suspicious or misleading. A big thank you to those who brought this one to our attention.”

  • Require a fee.
  • Cite specific Mississippi statutes.
  • Contain a due date for your response.
  • Appear similar to a government form.
  • Contain a “Customer ID Number” that does not match a number given to you by a State or Federal Agency.
  • Contain a warning to make sure that the form’s instructions are followed exactly when completing the form.
  • Contain your business entity’s actual business ID number and date of formation, as reflected in the Secretary of State’s business records.

A certificate of good standing in the state of Mississippi can be ordered online. Online processing costs are $25 and is immediate.

Businesses may report deceptive or misleading solicitations to the Secretary of State’s Office or the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-281-4418.

For more information, you can visit the the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division website or contact them at (601)-359-1633 or 1-800-256-3494.

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