The first step to register a business is to get the free Employer Identification Number (EIN). In my article last week I covered the SCAM services offering EIN numbers for a fee.
The second step when registering your business is to register with your state. The official website for the Florida Department of State is www.sunbiz.ORG. (NOT sunbiz.COM). You can get an OPTIONAL Certificate of Status when you register your business on sunbiz.org for a fee of $5 for an LLC and $8.75 for an INC and an OPTIONAL Certified Copy for $30 for an LLC or $8.75 for an INC. I personally never purchased them or found the need for them.
Beware! You can be Scammed at every step of your business registration. And once you are registered, your information is public and the scammers are the first people to reach out for you.
Here are some SCAMs to avoid:
www.sunbiz.com: They will charge you the registration fees plus an additional $100 for “registering your business”. They don’t offer any added value and it is not guaranteed that they will provide the service.
As soon as you register a new business a number of Scammers send a very official looking letter with an address in Tallahassee claiming something like: “You have one step left to receive your Florida Certificate of Status”.
They will charge you $48 or more to “send “ you a Certificate of Status that could be fake.
Here are a few:
United Certificate Services,
Florida Corporate Filing Services,
Corporate Filing Service Center,
Florida Corporations Center.
The problem of SCAM is so widespread that sunbiz.org has a special page; “Consumer Notice”, to alert you of some of the SCAMs. Bellow is an excerpt:
Carefully review all solicitations, notices and websites that offer various business filings, registrations and/or certification services at prices above the required statutory fees. (You can check the Fees on sunbiz.org website)
Do not confuse suspicious communications by mail or online with the Florida Division of Corporations’ official notices or website.
Check for non-governmental agency statements before complying with any instructions or using filing or certification services.
Disregard “Annual Minutes” or “Annual Corporate Record Forms” notices. Neither form is required by this office or any other state or government agency. (You only need to file an Annual Report on sunbiz.org)
As a new business owner you really need to be aware and on the lookout for these SCAMS!! Make sure to report the SCAM letters to help other business owners.
I personally get my revenge against these services by sending the letter back in their prepaid envelop so they will pay for it and writing in red on it “STOP THE SCAM”.