Scam Alert -- Fake Fine Scam Targets Businesses

  
     
Scammers Target Businesses with Fake Fees
August 14, 2015

Own or work at a small business? Be on the look out for a scam that attempts to fool businesses into paying fees to stay in compliance with government regulations that don't even exist.

How the Scam Works:

You receive an official-looking letter in the mail. It's labeled something like "Notice of Potential Compliance Violation," "Certificate of Good Standing Request Form" or "Annual Letter Solicitation Form," and it looks like a document from the state or provincial government. The mailing informs you that, in order to be in compliance with a regulation, you need to fill out the attached form and send it back with $125. 

Don't do it! There is no "corporate records" filing form or "good standing certificate." Scammers are hoping that business owners, eager to adhere to regulations, will automatically pay any "government" fee that comes along.

There are many versions of this scam. Con artists are very creative in their fake regulations. In on iteration, the mailing informs you that your business needs to file "corporate meeting minutes" with the government. How much does this cost? You guessed it: $125. 

How to spot a compliance scam:  

Here's how to spot fake government mailings. 

  • Search online. Some of the invented regulations are similar to real laws, so do your research before you pay. Your provincial or state government websites will have a section for businesses that list required licenses and fees. 
  • Don't believe what you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts and other details. Just because it looks official, does not mean it is.
  • Contact the government. Don't call the number on the mailing. Look on the government's website for the correct phone number. 

For More Information

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam).

Better Business Bureau needs your help in fighting scams. BBB has launched BBB Scam Tracker, a new tool to collect and disseminate information about scams, and we want your feedback to help us make this new resource the best it can be. As a subscriber to BBB Scam Alerts, we know you value up-to-date information on scams. To ensure that BBB Scam Tracker meets your needs, we want your insights, which will be used to refine, modify and improve this tool. 

Please visit BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker and then enter your thoughts in this quick survey. Thank you for partnering with us in this effort!