(COLUMBIA, SC) – South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond issued an advisory today warning of a scam selling bogus “certificates of status” to businesses.
“This week our office received multiple complaints from businesses stating that they had received a letter in the mail from an entity called SC Certificate Service,” said Secretary Hammond. “The letter purported to provide a ‘South Carolina Certificate of Status’ for $87.25. Businesses should know that this is not an official certificate issued by the State of South Carolina, and that this so-called certificate of status is not required to transact business in this state.”
The letter from SC Certificate Service falsely claims that “A South Carolina Certificate of Status is issued by the Secretary of State and may be required for loans, to renew business licenses, or for tax or other business purposes.” The Secretary of State’s Office does not issue a certificate of status as stated in the letter. While a business on file with the Secretary of State may request a Certificate of Existence from the Secretary of State, a Certificate of Existence is only issued by the Secretary of State’s Office and not a private entity. Furthermore, the fee for a Certificate of Existence is $10.00, rather than $87.25.
Secretary Hammond urged anyone receiving this letter or similar correspondence to contact the Secretary of State’s Office immediately. “It is a shame that there are scammers out there who try to take advantage of businesses by marketing these phony documents,” said Secretary Hammond. “I implore businesses and consumers to verify the legitimacy of any solicitation that they receive before sending any money.” The Secretary of State’s Business Filings Division can be reached at (803) 734-2158 or through the Secretary of State’s website at sos.sc.gov.
The Secretary of State’s Office has issued a cease-and-desist letter to SC Certificate Service and has referred the matter to law enforcement for further investigation.