Secretary of State Tre Hargett is warning Tennessee business owners to be aware of a scam that has resurfaced and is once again targeting businesses with a deceptive mailer from a company that goes by TN Certificate of Existence Filing Company.
"Our Division of Business and Charitable Organizations has recently received multiple complaints from business owners regarding this misleading mailer," said Secretary Hargett. "We have seen scams like this before with the same deceptive language implying that a business must have a Certificate of Existence in our state. That is simply not the case. Business owners don't need to waste their hard-earned money on a document that may not be necessary or would only cost $20 through our office."
Businesses across the state have received the misleading mailer titled 2022 Certificate of Existence Request claiming that all Tennessee businesses are required to pay a fee of $175.50 for this third-party company to step in and complete the Certificate of Existence paperwork on businesses' behalf.
The mailer also makes it appear that the 2022 Certificate of Existence Request is part of the business entity's registration process: "A Certificate of Existence certifies that your Tennessee business is in existence, is authorized to transact business in the state and complies with all state requirements."
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.
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.
Secretary Hargett encourages business owners to call the Division of Business and Charitable Organizations by phone at 615-741-2286 or email TNSOS.CERT@tn.gov if they receive a questionable mailer or want to know more about obtaining a Certificate of Existence.