Congratulations on your new business! And get ready for the scams.

As an attorney I get numerous “Congratulations, you are a distinguished attorney on our Super Special Attorneys List and for only $200, you get a certificate to hang in your office. For an additional $200, we will frame your fancy certificate in a gorgeous pressed wood frame!” It’s a scam. This scam typically targets people who are listed in publicly-searchable databases, such as attorneys, teachers and others.

Other scam targets are businesses who register or become approved or licensed where the license is public, such as registering in Ohio with the Secretary of State when you formed your business. Databases are searched regularly for targets. An example is the picture below in this post. It certainly looks official, and the Ohio Secretary of State, not amused, has been trying to put a stop to these scams. “OH Certificate Service” is a fake business that implies by this document that you must apply to get your business’s Certificate of Good Standing (Certificates of Good Standing are real–you obtain them to provide to lending institutions and for many other needs). This will cost you only $67.50. The problem, however, is that you obtain a Certificate of Good Standing from the Ohio Secretary of State–the same agency where you applied to become a entity such as an LLC– and the cost is $5.

I received a call from a client who had a feeling something was not right with the letter she received (pictured), but wanted to check with me to be sure. Fortunately she checked before paying $62.50 more than she needed.

If you are required to complete an application, or purchase a certificate, you will likely receive information from the agency in question. If you are ever in doubt, contact your attorney, or the agency.

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