On Your Side Alert: Warning about fake annual reports

On Your Side Alert: Warning about fake annual reports

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Don't trust everything that shows up in your mail. We have warned you about it before, but it's happening again. Crooks are mailing fake letters claiming local businesses need to pay for an annual report.

It's a trick to get your cash.

We've received the calls and emails from you about that suspicious letter. It claims you need to pay $125 to have your businesses annual minutes filed with the state. Tom Gallagher with Richmond office of the Better Business Bureau says he's also gotten questions about it. He's says it's an old trick after some fast cash. "I have seen this for the last several cycles. Maybe it is not every year, maybe it is every other year, where they will go in and send these things out and they do a huge mailing," he said.

Gallagher admits the letters look legitimate but says usually, in the fine print, you'll see something that says the notice is not from a filing service and not connected to any state or government agency. He says those sending the notices are hoping you won't read that fine print. Gallagher has taken calls from business owners fooled by the mailing. "He is worried about it and says, oh my goodness, I have to file this thing or I am not going to be in compliance with my State Corporation Commission. They go after the small guys and they are getting ripped off," Gallagher said.

Before you give up your money, always do your research. If you have a question about a piece of mail like the one in question, contact the BBB or the State Corporation Commission. Also, keep in mind corporations in the state are required to file annual reports but it's free. If you pay, don't expect to get your money back. "They will get a lot of money but you know what, it is awfully hard to prosecute over a batch of $79s it's not going to happen," Gallagher says.

The BBB says don't trust anything in a letter like this, the sender can change the name and make it appear likes it's located in whatever city you live. If you get one just throw it out. The State Corporation Commission is also aware of the mailings and has a warning on its website.


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