Malicious mail doesn’t just land in our email inboxes. There are still plenty of scams in paper form and one that is very common claims to be Corporation Statement of Information filing assistance for business owners with corporations. So if you own a corporation, you must read this! (Thinking of becoming a corporation? Read: Should my business become a corporation?)
There are several companies that routinely send emails and paper letters (especially in January) that are designed to entrap the inexperienced. While not an actual scam, these messages are misleading and not all that helpful to you as a business owner filing for your Corporation Statement of Information. As far as assistance goes, their paperwork might take just as long as the real forms. Staying in compliance with your corporation on your own is easy to do and the real form ordinarily takes less than 5 minutes.
That’s what these Corporation Statement of Information filing assistance companies don’t want you to know!
From the last letters I’ve received, one of these “helpful” companies wanted $250 and another wanted $104 to file the Statement of Information for the corporation for me. (So by their measure, at $104 for 5 minutes, I would be making more than $1,200 per hour – hmmm, I may be in the wrong business.)
Is someone trying to play you? Did you know that for ONLY $25 you can file your corporation’s required annual Statement of Information and stay in good graces with the California Secretary of State? (There will be different rules if you are incorporated in another state so be sure to do your due diligence.)
These companies of course don’t tell you that you can do this on your own and for only $25. Your Statement of Information is due annually and for most corporations is due early in the year. (FYI – Noncompliance is a headache and expensive – put this on your calendar and don’t miss it!) Did you get a post card in the mail in November or December telling you it was due and how to do it? If you can’t find the postcard, no worries. It’s pretty easy:
- Have your credit card handy as you will be asked to pay online when you complete the form.
- Now go to the Secretary of State site at http://www.sos.ca.gov/business-programs
- Select item #2 to file your Corporate Statement of Information online, put in your corporate number and follow the prompts.
- If you have not had any changes in your business (like the business name or DBA), check the box and follow the instructions. If you have had changes, indicate what they are and follow the instructions.
- Print a copy for your files.
- Make your payment. All done!
It will take you about 5 minutes and cost $25 to handle filing your Corporation Statement of Information on your own. There it is – the secret these Corporation Statement of Information filing assistance companies don’t want you to know is out!
These misleading companies make a ton of money off of the inexperienced. This happens to business owners every year. Don’t let it happen to you. Be in the know and don’t get played. When you get notices for your business ALWAYS KNOW who it is from and what it is for. Governing agencies under most circumstances send their materials via the US Postal Service not email. When you are looking for online services, governing agencies will have .gov as part of their URL. They do sometimes use third-party vendors but you will be directed to those sites from within the government website. I always proceed with caution when it comes to making a payment as you never know when a government site will be hacked. Always err on the side of caution. Still not sure about a piece of mail? My daughter’s suggestion always yields interesting results: look at the name of the company on the return address and do an Internet search with their name and the word “scam” in it. So you would search for “ABC Filing Company scam” in Google Search and see if it comes back with pages and pages of results that it’s not really a government entity for what you think it is.