State Warns Business Owners of Unofficial Letters Being Sent Out

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The nonprofit association known as SCORE has sent out an alert to Florida business owners to be on the lookout for a couple of notices that may end up fooling them into spending hundreds of dollars they may not need to.

The notices may or may not be scams, but SCORE warns business owners that there's no need to give these groups money, as official as they may look or sound.

"These letters tend to look official," George Gremse of the Broward chapter of SCORE tells New Times. "People aren't sure, so they might be writing a check they don't need to write."

SCORE, which is a nationwide nonprofit association dedicated to helping business owners and giving assistance to small businesses to get started, is warning Florida entrepreneurs about two specific letters they may receive in the mail.

One letter is titled "State of Florida, the 2013 ANNUAL REPORT." That one, SCORE says, is the real deal, and should not be ignored. The state usually sends these notices via email, but occasionally through the mail as well.

The other, however, is from a for profit commercial company, one which might be mistaken as an official notice from the state about annual minutes. This letter, the state says, is titled "Annual Minutes," or "Annual Corporate Record Forms." These are not official, the state says on their website.

The Annual Report basically asks business owners to notify the state of any changes in directors, registered agents, which requires an annual fee. Usually, the fee is $150.

The Annual Report can be filed and paid for with a credit card online at Sunbiz.org.

"There are different prices for different types of businesses," Gremse says. "But business owners should be capable of completing any annual minute form without the help of the companies that send out these notices."

Basically, a business might spend money they don't necessarily have to just because they're receiving letters that appear official.

The safe thing to do, Gremse says, is to log on to Sunbiz.org and file with them.

Sunbiz.org has also issued the alert:

Do not confuse with the Florida Department of State's required Annual Report filings. These notices, which solicit a fee of $125, are NOT from the Department of State or any other state or federal agency. Please disregard these notices. Neither form is required by this office or any other state or government agency.

The State of Florida's website has posted the notice:

CONSUMER ALERT: Please be aware that COMPLIANCE SERVICES or CORPORATE RECORDS SERVICE (not to be confused with the Florida corporation, Compliance Services, Inc.) is mailing notices to business entities requesting that "Annual Minutes" and a fee of $125.00 be sent to them for filing. These notices are NOT from the Dept. of State, Division of Corporations. "Annual Minutes" are NOT required to be filed with any agency. They are to be kept by the business entity itself. Do NOT confuse these notices with the messages sent by the Division of Corporations reminding each business entity to file its 2012 Annual Report.

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