Wisconsin businesses are being cautioned about solicitations that appear to come from the government, but, in reality do not.
This comes after reports of an offer from Michigan-based Corporate Records Search to fill out a "2014 Annual Records Solicitation Form" for $125. The form, according to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, is not required by any state agency.
"It's a solicitation. It's not required. It's not an invoice," said Kimberly Hazen, who runs the southwest chapter of the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau. She said her office has been inundated with questions and complaints about the mail.
"To us, it feels deceptive because it's looking like an official document from the state of Wisconsin and it's not," Hazen said.
A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Justice said the agency is "reviewing" this mailer. The DOJ obtained a $340,000 judgment against the same company in 2013 for a "deceptive solicitation."
In that case, 73,000 Wisconsin businesses were told Corporate Records Service could fill out their “annual corporate minutes” forms for $125. Those forms were not needed by any Wisconsin governmental agency either.
A news release from the Justice Department announcing the judgment stated, "(It) also imposes a permanent injunction upon the defendants, requiring them to make a set of changes to their solicitation in order to protect future consumers from being mislead."
"To be this gutsy, to be doing it all again is surprising to us," Hazen said. "Our investigator used the term serial spammer to describe these people."
The Department of Justice is encouraging all business owners who have "doubts about a particular solicitation for Corporate Records Services to contact WDFI."
Multiple phone messages for Corporate Records Service executives were not returned.