Another fake state billing scam is making the rounds in California.Hiding behind a generic sounding name, Corporate Business Filings is sending what looks like a government form to unsuspecting California Corporations, requesting $225 or else face penalties and suspension.The form is titled “Corporate Officers List” which is purposely made to look like the Secretary of State’s Statement of Information.
Corporate Business Filings Scam
Because Corporate Business Filings is purposely making their form look governmental, with threats of penalties and suspension, as opposed to a simple offer of a service, I am calling this a scam!
Fake Governmental Form
Corporate Business Filings, is a private business but is sending the below form to Corporations (and I assume LLC’s) registered with the California Secretary of State, and whose addresses are public.Corporation (and LLC) owners who receive this form believe it to be from a state governmental agency, which is the response for which it was designed.The form requests that the INC/LLC “Remit Payment” $225 no later than a listed date, or be subject to a stiff “Penalty of $250.00 by the California Franchise Tax Board section 17651(b)”.Of course, if you bothered to look up Section 17651(b) of the California Statutes, you’ll find that the California Franchise Tax Board has nothing to do with this section, and this statute deals only with LLC’s (notice below was sent to a Corporation).
So why does anyone pay it?Because companies like Corporate Business Filings know how to design a form that looks governmental, and most small businesses do not take the time to read and consider whether or not the form is legit.
Below is a copy of an actual notice sent by Corporate Business Filings
(Personal information blocked out for privacy to remitter)
What to do if you get this form?
Throw it out!Any time you ever receive a form that demands money, be skeptical.Unless it states the specific government agency and lists a phone number (all legit governmental forms include a phone number somewhere in the instructions), you know it is bogus.
Statement of Information - $25 NOT $225!
The only form that is remotely similar to this one, actually from the Secretary of State, is a Statement of Information.This too is the form that Corporate Business Filings later says they are submitting on your behalf, if you fill out their form and submit to them with payment.The Statement of Information filing is a requirement of all Corporations and LLC’s.It must be filed within 90 days after formation and periodically (Visit smallbiz.com/california to find out how often) to the state with a fee of $25 ($20 for LLC) and NOT $225.That means that Corporate Business Filings is charging $200 to fill out a form, assuming they even do this.Of course, no one would pay them $200 if they said “We’ll fill out a form for you for $200.”
Actual Statement of Information form
Crafting a Lie
Using poorly written governmental-like language, in highly crammed sentences, most recipients will avoid reading the “fine print”. That is part of the design as these notices are crafted so that you feel nervous that maybe you forgot a deadline and need to send this in without reading it first.This is an obvious attempt to confuse the public.In this man’s opinion, they are scum bags and should be prosecuted!
How do they get away with it?
The simple reason is because people do not read what they receive.But read it you should, as you should with every notice or form you receive, regardless of where it comes from. Within the fine print, plainly written, is “Corporate Business Filings is a Private Service Company.”Later in the form, it is stated, “This product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any Governmental Agency, and this offer is not being made by any agency of the government.”Both citations are an obvious attempt to argue that they are being transparent when they respond to one of the many complaints made to the State’s Attorney General.
Who is Corporate Business Filings?
Again part of the subterfuge is hiding behind the generic name.We couldn’t find out who they are.The form does not state if Corporate Business Filings is an entity, although there is corporate seal (top left hand side of the page) which says it is a California Corporation formed in 1998 (see state records below).The form lists an address of:PO Box 48738, Los Angeles, CA 90048.Of course, no phone number is listed.
CEO & Founder of SmallBiZ.com, created over seventeen years ago to help small business owners simplify the process of starting & managing their small businesses. SmallBiZ.com now serves over 10,000 businesses per year with various filing and subscription services; in addition to the 1000's of daily visitors to www.smallbiz.com, accessing free services, help pages, & educational videos & webinars.