Secretary of State issued warning to business owners of scam attempts

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett is issuing a warning statement to business owners across Tennessee, advising them of a scam that has recently resurfaced targeting businesses with a fake mailer from a company that goes by two names: “Tennessee Certificate Service” and “TN Certificate of Existence Filing Company.”

The misleading mailer is titled “2021 Certificate of Existence Request” and has been sent to businesses across the state – purporting to require all Tennessee businesses pay a fee of either $83 or $175.50 for this third-party company to step in and complete the Certificate of Existence paperwork on businesses’ behalf. However, a Certificate of Existence can be obtained directly from the Secretary of State’s office for just $20, either by phone, mail, or online at tnbear.tn.gov/Ecommerce/CertOfExistenceInstr.aspx.

The mailer makes it appear that the 2021 Certificate of Existence Request is part of the business entity’s registration process.

The mailer and organization are not affiliated with or authorized by the Secretary of State’s Office in any way. Businesses may wish to obtain a Certificate of Existence in certain circumstances, such as a loan closing or other business transaction. However, they are not required to do so as a matter of course during the business formation process.

Secretary Hargett encourages business owners to call the Division of Business Services at 615-741-2286 if they receive such a questionable mailer or have questions about obtaining a Certificate of Existence.