ATLANTA — Letters once again are being sent to businesses all across Georgia warning that their registrations are expiring and they need to mail a check to renew.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s office calls it a rip off.
“It looks absolutely real and it fooled me almost,” Sahar Hekmati told Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Justin Gray.
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Hekmati runs a restaurant consulting business.
She got an official looking notice in the mail telling her that it was time to renew her business registration.
“I thought it was my renewal for my business and I thought wow I need to go ahead and pay this,” Hekmati said.
It was the cost of the registration that caught real estate advisor Rick Blumenfeld’s eye.
“Usually, my annual registration is about $50 and this time they said it was $170,” Blumenfeld said.
The mailings are not from the Secretary of State. It still only costs $50 to register your business for the year.
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“It’s very simple to do and it takes one click,” said Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s office says it is technically legal for third parties to file for your business registration for you, but it is simple, inexpensive process to do on your own.
Companies sending out the mailings are trying to trick you out of your money.
A 2021 rule change requires these mailings have a big notice in 16 point Helvetica font at the top of the mailing, two inches from other text warning that it is a solicitation and that it was not sent from the Secretary of State’s office.
The mailings Hekmati and Blumenfeld received did not have that warning.
“It’s very likely some of these companies are breaking the law we are going to crack down on them,” Fuchs said.
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The Secretary of State also does not send renewal notices by mail. They contact businesses by email.
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