Mississippi leaders warn of “Certificate of Existence” scam

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office warns the business community of deceptive letters requesting a $90.50 fee to order certain business documents from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Secretary Michael Watson said his office has received numerous reports of a company using the fictitious name, MS Certificate Service, soliciting misleading “2020 Certificate of Existence Request Forms” to businesses throughout the state. This solicitation is not sent or authorized by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.

“Scams like this resurface quite often in an attempt to cheat hardworking, unsuspecting business owners who are doing their best to stay on top of everything,” said Secretary Michael Watson. “Our office takes pride in having an affordable business filing system, and we work hard to make sure no business owner gets taken advantage of by groups like this. We encourage all businesses to be vigilant and report anything suspicious or misleading. A big thank you to those who brought this one to our attention.”

Misleading solicitations may:

  • Require a fee.
  • Cite specific Mississippi statutes.
  • Contain a due date for your response.
  • Appear similar to a government form.
  • Contain a “Customer ID Number” that does not match a number given to you by a State or Federal Agency.
  • Contain a warning to make sure that the form’s instructions are followed exactly when completing the form.
  • Contain your business entity’s actual business ID number and date of formation, as reflected in the Secretary of State’s business records.

A certificate of good standing in the state of Mississippi can be ordered online at www.sos.ms.gov. Online processing costs $25 and is immediate.

Businesses may report deceptive or misleading solicitations to the Secretary of State’s Office or the Attorney General’s Office. The Mississippi Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline is 1-800-281-4418.

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