Normally, I don’t post about state-specific issues, but I am in this instance, and here’s why: when you read what this company is doing, it may well ring a bell even if you don’t live in Pennsylvania. That’s because these kinds of schemes know no geographic boundaries: you’ll find them all over the country.

In this specific instance, the Pennsylvania Department of State is warning about a company calling itself “PA Certificate Service.” The company is sending forms to businesses that look like this (partial look below), stating that the business has “one step left” to obtain an “elective Certificate of Good Standing” by paying $87.25 to the company to procure the certificate. Companies are informed that they may need the certificate for loans, renewing business licenses, for tax or other business purposes.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, there is no company registered to do business in Pennsylvania by the name of “PA Certificate Service.” The address used by this company is that of a UPS store located in Harrisburg and the phone number on the mailing (1-855-211-9705) goes to a call center located outside of Pennsylvania.

The Department of State is calling this a “partial scam” because the mailing contains some incorrect and overbroad information. The Pennsylvania Department of State does not issue “Certificates of Good Standing.” Instead, Pennsylvania law permits “Subsistence Certificates” to be issued to domestic filing associations and “Certificates of Registration” for registered foreign associations. The certificates can be obtained directly from the Department of State for $40.

Again, this notion isn’t limited to Pennsylvania. Be smart. If it doubt, assume it’s a scam.

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.

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