Every month, you probably receive dozens of solicitations. Some of them can look very official and urgent.
For example, one of our clients received this piece of mail and was left wondering if obtaining a Certificate of Status from the State of Florida was a step he’d overlooked in registering his LLC.
Not at all!
This notice from Florida Certificate Services reads, “Congratulations on registering your business with the State of Florida. Your articles have been filed with the secretary of state and are complete. You have one step left in order to attain your elective Florida Certificate of Status,” and then it goes on to explain how this may be required for loans, business licenses and other purposes.
Even though Florida Certificate Services doesn’t claim to be part of the State of Florida outright, it’s no mistake that this notice is misleading and worded in a way that would have you assuming that you’re receiving a piece of mail from their office.
In fact, although a Florida Certificate of Status is a real document that the State of Florida can issue to you, it is not all that necessary. Most banks are happy to look up your business on Sunbiz in order for you to open an account, and it is possible to conduct your business activities without ever ordering such a certificate.
If you did choose to order a Certificate of Status, you could order one through Florida’s Division of Corporations on www.Sunbiz.org for $5.00, $8.75, or $10.00, depending on the type of corporation you’ve registered for. It would take about five minutes of your time.
Florida Certificate Services charges a fee of $61.25 to provide that same certificate to you. They are not the only company that sends these type of letters, either. Our client received something nearly identical from Certificate Filing Service out of Fort Myers.
Again, these businesses are not guilty of scams or fraud just because they are trying to charge you a large fee for something you can do yourself and don’t really need…. but they are ethically questionable, and they continue to profit because there are plenty of people whom they’ve taken advantage of. The very tiny fine print may acknowledge that their company is not affiliated with the State of Florida, or the fine print may not be there at all.
Even the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations found it necessary to issue the following disclaimer:
CONSUMER ALERT: Once an entity is properly formed, incorporated, organized, or registered on the records of this office, it is not required to purchase or receive a certificate of status to be considered a valid business entity or registration. Please disregard any notices or solicitations you may receive to the contrary. These notices are NOT from the Dept. of State, Division of Corporations, or any other state or federal agency.