On Your Side Alert: Warning about official-looking document

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A 12 On Your Side Alert about spending money you don't have to. Both the BBB and the State Corporation Commission want to warn you about a form you could get in the mail, that they say isn't what it seems.

It's from an agency called Corporate Records Service. The mailing address is right here in Richmond. The pitch, the company will prepare your corporate minutes, for a fee of course. It looks official, it even cites Virginia Code but Tom Gallagher, with the Richmond BBB says it's misleading. "I have gotten calls from very savvy businessmen and women, entrepreneurs who are used to reading the mail, who have come close to mailing this thing away," he says.

The SCC is aware of these mailings and says it's also received complaints about the offer which appears to be an official government communication. The offer does mention that it is not linked to a government agency and does not have a contract with the government. But the concern is that businesses may confuse the offer to "prepare" company minutes -- for $125 -- with the legal requirement to "file" annual reports with the state -- which is free.

We went by the address listed in that mailing to get some answers but all we found was a UPS store. We also reached out to the company for comment by phone and email, but were told that no manager was available to respond to media by phone and received no response to our emails.

On its site, the SCC confirms the form is not official and is not recognized by the state. It advises corporations that receive these solicitations to contact a lawyer or get in touch with SCC about Virginia law and filing requirements. "The biggest thing and the best protection for any of us at any level is just to say no," Gallagher says.

As a rule of thumb, before you fill out a form and give up your cash, do your research. The BBB says government action has been taken against Corporate Records Service in Iowa and Wisconsin. It warns the mailings may also show up in your mailbox under a different name.

Helpful links: