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Better Business Bureau serving Canton Region and Greater West Virginia offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.

Correctly filing the official paperwork can be a nerve-wracking part of setting up a new business. New business owners can easily confuse official-looking correspondence with a real legal requirementHere is how to spot a con that tricks new business owners into overpaying for an unnecessary Certificate of Existence.

How the scam works

You are starting a new business and register it as an LLC. Afterward, you receive a letter or email from what appears to be a government agency. The correspondence does not explicitly say it is from the government, but the wording mimics other letters you received from official sources. The message informs you that you have “one step left” before you can obtain your “certificate of existence.” It is easy. Send the organization a fee ranging from $80 to $120, and they will mail you the document.Do not fall for it! The letter may state in fine print that the certificate is “optional,” but overall, the tone suggests it is a legal requirement. It is not. Businesses may wish to obtain a Certificate of Existence in certain circumstances, such as a loan closing. However, it is not a required part of setting up a new company, as the correspondence implies. If you do need a Certificate of Existence, visit your state’s website ( and purchase one directly. States charge about $10 for this service.   

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