BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – The Better Business Bureau is warning the public about a scam that targets new business owners.
According to the BBB, business owners have been receiving letters or emails from what appears to be a government agency. The letter tells owners they must send a fee ranging from $80 to $120 in order to obtain a “certificate of existence.”
Experts say that while the letter suggests a “certificate of existence” is a legal requirement, it’s not. However, the Better Business Bureau says a company can obtain a “certificate of existence” for reasons such as closing on a loan.
If a new business owner wants to obtain a “certificate of existence,” experts suggest going directly to a state’s website. The service typically comes at a cost of about $10.
The Better Business Bureau offered the below tips for how a new business owner can avoid becoming a scam victim:
- Get familiar with the state laws that apply to your business. Check your state’s government website to find out what business certificates and licenses are required by law if any.
- Know that new business owners are targets for scams. Stay alert to the possibility of being targeted by a scammer. Don’t take everyone at their word and be wary of unsolicited communications. Do research before paying for any services or certificates that anyone claims you need in order to do business.
- Review payment notices carefully. Scammers sometimes send fake invoices hoping you’ll assume they are legitimate and pay without thinking. Never pay without confirming an invoice is real.
- Don’t panic. Scammers like to use scare tactics to make people pay them money. Don’t make a payment just because someone threatens you or your business. Always make sure the request for payment comes from an official source before you pay.
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