business alert - beware of documents charging fees for services you don't need

Business Alert – Watch Out for Unnecessary Fees and Expenses

Setting up a new business as a limited liability company (LLC) is often a good idea. Under Missouri law, there is a one time filing, which can be done online, of the Articles of Organization. Once the Articles are properly filed and approved, you will receive a “filed stamped” copy and your Certificate of Organization. These documents provide proof of the validity of your business as an LLC. However, other parties may attempt to convince you to obtain additional documentation, causing you to spend unnecessary fees and expenses.

Some of our clients are reporting that they are receiving correspondence, after filing their new LLC, advising that they need to obtain “Certified Copies of your Articles of Organization”. A copy of such a letter is attached here.

As you can see, the document appears to be “official”. However, this step is not necessary. If you receive a notice indicating that for a fee, some company will “submit a request for certified copies”, you should know that you can request these directly from the Missouri Secretary of State’s website for a nominal fee.

It is important that business owners beware of suspicious, official looking correspondence.  Correspondence that looks too much like a government form, sent by an organization of which you have never heard, is probably asking you to part with unnecessary fees or expenses, or other information that is not needed.  

Beware of Unnecessary Fees and Expenses

If you do not have an attorney, or if you want to try and determine if an official looking notice is  legitimate, spend some time to investigate and  identify the sender of the correspondence. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Do a Google search for the company sending you the notice.  Carefully review the sender’s website, if it has one.  If the sender does not have a website that contains real substance, or if it does not end in .gov, think twice before sending money to the sender.  
  2. These businesses produce very official-looking notices or invoices.  Remember, the only reason for sending correspondence nearly identical to that which is authoritative is to deliberately deceive or mislead you.  There is no valid reason to imitate official, authoritative correspondence by attempting to utilize its language, layout and color scheme;
  3. These businesses will ask for money or confidential information.  These solicitations want company owners to pay unnecessary fees or expenses for a product or service that is not necessary, or to use the information obtained for their own purposes.  Many times the service they provide is over priced or even worse – not required by Missouri law, as is implied by the correspondence;
  4. The fact that these parties have your company name, file number and address means nothing.  All Missouri entities must provide certain information to the Missouri Secretary of State, which is then displayed on the Secretary of State’s website where it may be seen by anyone with internet access.  

The bottom line is that you should beware of any correspondence with these characteristics and read each piece of correspondence carefully before paying money or providing information to the sender.

We’re Here to Help

Our goal is to help clients be successful in their business endeavors. If you own a business, or plan to start a business, the business law attorneys at Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC can help. We can review documents to help you avoid paying unnecessary fees and expenses.  Contact us or call us at (573)686-2459. We’re here to help.

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