Certificates of Existence, Status, or Good Standing – sounds like an existential crisis, right? Instead of a philosophical commentary on the meaning of life, the certificates in question refer to business documentation from your state or local government. In a new twist on an old scam, some not-so-honest outfits may try to confuse you into thinking they’re from the government and that you need to pay for certain documents to operate your business.
When you started your business, you filed paperwork to register it with the government agency that oversees commercial activity. Here’s where the scammers come in. After registration, you might get a mailer that looks like an official invoice from a government agency, claiming that you need to pay for a “Certificate of Existence” or a “Certificate of Good Standing.” The name of the sham agency, necessary documentation, and the amount of the fees can differ from state to state. To convince you it’s legit, these mailings often use what looks like an official government seal and may include your actual business identification number. To get your money, they urge you to hurry up and pay, or they claim you could be in legal trouble.