WICHITA FALLS - Businesses in North Texas and other states should be cautious about responding to mailings from Corporate Records Service, a Michigan company that is asking for $125 in return for help compiling corporate annual minutes documents, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
Corporate Records Service, which also uses a Austin, TX postal box, was the focus of a complaint filed last month by the Wisconsin attorney general. Several other states have issued warnings about the firm in recent months.
The Wisconsin complaint alleges that the mailings have the "look and feel" of a government document. The attorney general claims that information on the form and the mailing envelopes constitute "untrue, deceptive or misleading" statements made with intent to sell a service.
Last month, Oregon's secretary of state described a virtually identical notice mailed to businesses in that state as misleading and unneeded. Similar warnings have been issued in Illinois, Texas, Washington, Maine and Delaware in recent months.
One Wichita Falls businessman described the mailing as "misleading" and said that he had received one for each of his three companies.
Monica Horton, BBB president and CEO, said they have received more than a dozen inquiries from North Texas businesses about the mailings. Many described the notices as confusing.
"Businesses should know they are under no obligation to use Corporate Records Service or to pay for anything," Horton said. "This is a private business trying to get you to buy something you simply don't need."
Earlier this year, Corporate Records Service responded to an inquiry from the BBB after several businesses in Tennessee complained about the mailings. At that time, Corporate Records Service said that the mailings clearly state that "we are not a government agency and we do not have a contract with the government to provide our service."
Corporate Records Service said that it apologized for any confusion. "The state does deem it necessary for corporations to retain certain documentation regarding annual corporate meetings, such as lists of corporate officers, directors and shareholders. Our company offers document preparation services to assist companies in fulfilling these requirements."
Corporate Records Service is a part of The Mandatory Poster Agency Inc. of Lansing, Mich. That business has an "F" rating with the BBB, the lowest possible.
In July 2012, the Iowa attorney general's office obtained an agreement with The Mandatory Poster Agency requiring that it not make misleading statements regarding its location or its status as a government entity. The agreement also bars the company from using a name that includes the words "agency" or "compliance center," and bars it from using logos similar to government logos. The company also cannot misrepresent workplace posting laws and requirements, or imply that its products are somehow mandatory or approved by government agencies.
The BBB suggests that any business contacted about state corporate requirements contact the secretary of state or other office responsible for overseeing those requirements. The BBB warns businesses to read any similar mailings carefully before paying money or sending private information.
A BBB Business Review of a company may be obtained at www.bbb.org or by calling 940-691-1172.