'Don't pay. Read the fine print.' NC business owners warned about misleading forms that look legit

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Since the pandemic, a record number of corporations, LLCs, and charities registered in North Carolina. When you file with the NC Secretary of State, that goes into a public database, which means you will be targeted with a lot of mail that may appear you need to take action, but you must read the fine print.

A newly formed Raleigh LLC owner shared with us several letters they got in the mail shortly after registering with the state.

"We know that it's a public database that folks can get the addresses and contact information from on what has been filed here, and they're trying to create a business model on our back," NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said,

Marshall is talking about third-party businesses who are sending letters to businesses hoping to catch them off guard.

Each letter appears to look official, one even claiming to be with NC Certified Document Services. Each letter claims there are important documents you may need, and the price tags range from an $82 fee, all the way up to $399. One letter even states a labor law poster that is required by federal law, and it comes with a $124 fee.

"What could happen is if they do fall for this, they're going to spend some money that's unnecessary," Marshall said. "They hope that people will get in a rush figure oh no, one more thing to do and go send off that $90, that $125 that is absolutely unnecessary."

The key when you get one of these letters in the mail is to not pay any money. Instead, read the small print as it states it's not a bill, not a government agency, and they're acting as a third party.

Marshall said the latest activity her office is warning business owners about is concerning a Uniform Commercial Code document.

"That shows what property has been collateralized by a lender," Marshall explained. "They're for free on our website, you can print them off if you need to or look at one it's right there, it's for free and they're advertising $90 for them."

In the past, Marshall's office has taken action against companies that did not have the required small print on the letters explaining exactly what you're paying for.

Even if you get a letter that appears to be official, you must read the fine print to protect your money.

If you have any questions check with the NC Secretary of State or the NC Department of Labor as you will find many of these forms online.

"They are for free. They're on our website, you can print them off if you need to look at one it's right there it's for free," Marshall reiterated.

The NC Secretary of State has issued several warnings about misleading mailings.
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