Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced Wednesday that Corporate Record Services has agreed to provide refunds to Hoosier businesses that paid the company $125 for services they believed were required by the government. Last January, the company sent letters to Indiana businesses that many believed were from the Secretary of State’s office. The letter solicited $125 annually for recordkeeping services and cited state law regarding annual meetings requirements.
“Many small businesses paid the $125 fee because they believed they were required by law and when they found out the letter was not from a government office they felt ripped off,” said Secretary Lawson. “Business owners already have enough on their plate. Paying unnecessary fees is the last thing they need. I’m pleased these Hoosiers will get their money back and that in the future, this company will have to include a disclaimer on their mailings that they are not a government agency.”
When Secretary Lawson became aware of the letter last January, she immediately issued a notice to alert the business community that the message was not from her office. Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a complaint on her behalf against Corporate Record Services and its affiliates alleging violations of the Indiana Deceptive Commercial Solicitation Act. After a year of legal proceedings, an agreement has been reached that Corporate Record Services must contact every Indiana business that responded to its mailing and advise them that they are eligible to receive a full refund. Any future mailings by the company must include a disclaimer indicating it is not a government document. The company must also reimburse the state for the investigation costs.
Corporate Record Services must mail letters offering a full refund and instructions on how to claim the refund to businesses that paid the company no later than March 20, 2014. Businesses will have 120 days from February 20, 2014 to request a refund.
“This agreement helps reform Corporate Record Services’ practices which misled business owners into believing the services and subsequent fees were required by the government,” Zoeller said. “Whether you are a consumer or a business owner, it’s important to contact your local or state government entities directly if you have questions about fees or services.”
Any Indiana business that paid Corporate Record Services for record-keeping services can file a complaint with the attorney general’s office. To file a complaint, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 1-800-382-5516 to request a complaint form be mailed or faxed.
Businesses wishing to check the validity of any mailing from the Indiana Secretary of State should contact the office at (317) 232-6532.