News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 3, 2013

Secretary of State warns of deceptive letter


Special to the Tribune-Star

INDIANAPOLIS — According to Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, some Indiana businesses have received a deceptive letter that may appear to come from the Business Services Division of her office. The letter should be ignored. It is an attempt to defraud Indiana business owners.

The letter solicits a $125 annual fee and claims it will be used for record-keeping and processing of a company’s annual minutes. It gives the appearance of coming from a legitimate government agency and uses state law out of context. It also includes a “return by” date. The return address on some of the recent letters mailed to Indiana businesses goes to a box at a UPS Store in Speedway, Ind.

“We take seriously our role to protect Hoosiers from scams of all nature,” Lawson said. “Any effort by swindlers to defraud Hoosier small businesses is deplorable.”

Lawson is concerned businesses may be misled into thinking the letter replaces legal requirements. Businesses operating in Indiana can securely report any information legitimately required by law online through the Secretary of State’s website, www.in.gov/sos/business.

Businesses wishing to check the validity of any mailing from Indiana’s Business Services Division or any division of the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State can contact the Business Services Division Help Line at 317-232-6576.

In 2008, a similar letter circulated and more than 100 businesses fell victim to the scam. The Attorney General’s office successfully prosecuted the case in Marion County. The judge agreed the letters were misleading with intent to deceive. Lawson has turned the latest letters over to Attorney General Greg Zoeller.