On March 19, 2021

AG Donovan warns of deceptive business filing service

Attorney General T.J. Donovan and Secretary of State Jim Condos are warning Vermont businesses that a Florida-based company, Centurion Filing Services, LLC, calling itself VT Certificate Service, is mailing businesses a request for payment for a “certificate of good standing.” The mailing—which looks like a bill requesting a “fee” of $87.50—has the recipient’s information pre-printed on the form and creates a false sense of urgency by using the terms “Notice Date” and “Please Respond By.” It also deceptively suggests officiality by referring to the “State of Vermont” and the “Secretary of State” when it is not affiliated with any State agency. Last week, the Attorney General’s Office sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company demanding it stop misleading Vermont businesses about the so-called “service.”

“Bogus solicitations by out-of-state actors negatively impact Vermont small businesses,” said Attorney General Donovan. “It’s misleading, it’s unnecessary, and it will not be tolerated. I want to thank the Secretary of State’s Office for flagging this problem.”

A certificate of good standing or status confirms that a business is compliant with all legal requirements to retain sole rights to its business name, and the authority to conduct business under its business name within Vermont. Certified copies of documents are not a requirement and are rarely needed in day-to-day transactions, but may occasionally be useful to authenticate a business registration, show good standing, or to apply for a loan. Vermont businesses that have registered with the Secretary of State’s Office can generate certificates of good standing by using the Secretary of State’s website and paying a $25 fee.

“When it was brought to our attention that this company was misleading new businesses and gouging them for a simple state certificate that we provide at less than one third of the cost, we went to work with the Attorney General’s Office to put an end to this practice,” said Secretary Condos. “Running a business right now is hard enough without bad actors taking advantage. Thank you to the people who reported this to us and thank you to Attorney General Donovan and his team for taking prompt action.”

Vermonters who paid VT Certificate Service for filing “services” may file a complaint online with the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program or by calling 800-649-2424. For information about how to access business filings or to request certified copies of forms, contact the Secretary of State at sos.vermont.gov.

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