Company that targeted NC businesses with misleading mailings must change ways
Release date: 3/11/2011
AG Cooper and Secretary of State Marshall resolve case against Corporate Services, Inc
Raleigh: A California company that sent misleading mailings to North Carolina businesses to obtain corporate minutes must permanently change the way it does business, Attorney General Roy Cooper and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall announced today.
“We acted fast to keep North Carolina businesses from losing money to this scheme,” said Cooper. “Within 36 hours after these mailing were reported to us, we asked a judge to stop them and now we have an agreement that permanently does just that.”
“This is good news for North Carolina businesses and employers,” N.C. Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall said. “Today we are sending a strong message that scare-tactic marketing and advertising disguised to look like it came from a government agency will not be tolerated in our State.”
In 2009, Cooper and Marshall filed suit against Corporate Services, Inc., Compliance Services and owner Selwyn J. Monarch claiming they misled North Carolina businesses into thinking they had failed to comply with state laws on taking and filing corporate minutes. The suit alleged Corporate Services sent mailings that gave the impression that they were a state agency, even using a post office box in downtown Raleigh as their return address.
The mailings directed the businesses to pay $125 and provide information on their corporate minutes by a certain date. Corporate Services referenced laws in Chapter 55 of the North Carolina General Statutes which are enforced by the North Carolina Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s Office does not issue letters like the ones sent by Corporate Services, nor does the agency collect fees from corporations for failing to keep or file corporate minutes.
Under today’s settlement
, Corporate Services must comply with following conditions and pay $25,000 to the state:
- Any future mailing must clearly disclose that it is an offer for solicitation of commercial services and is not approved or endorsed by a government agency.
- All envelopes must include language stating that, “this is not a government document.”
- No future mailing or envelope may display a street address or post office box in Raleigh or Research Triangle Park.
- All future correspondence must include the sender’s actual name.
- No future mailings can give the impression that they were issued by a government agency or that failure to respond will result in penalties or enforcement action.
- No future mailing or envelopes can include seals or other emblems that resemble government agencies.
- No future solicitations can contain the words “Notice”, “Notice Date”, Mandatory”, “Warning”, Requirement” or “Required” in the title or heading of the document.
- No reference to North Carolina law may be made to foreign corporations registered to do business in North Carolina.
- The defendants will refrain from sending solicitations between February 15 and April 30 of each year to prevent confusion that responding to the solicitation would satisfy the requirement to file an annual report or pay annual filing fees with the Secretary of State.
Cooper encourages businesses or consumers that get questionable letters demanding unusual fees contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or file a consumer complaint online
Anyone wishing to check on the status of their corporation, limited liability company, or other business entity registered at the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office can go to www.sosnc.com
or call the Corporations Division at 919-807-2225.
Contact: Jennifer Canada, (919) 716-6413