COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD)- South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond on Thursday warned of a solicitation scam that is targeting newer businesses across the state.

According to Sec. Hammond, scammers are sending fake solicitation letters to South Carolina businesses selling a “certificate of status” and other federal documents.

“This week our office has been notified by several business filing customers that they have been contacted by an entity called ‘South Carolina Certified Document Services,’” Sec. Hammond said. “This entity is sending letters to South Carolina businesses claiming that they need to pay $399.89 in order to obtain items that are available for $10.00 or less from state and federal agencies.  Businesses need to know that this is a scam and not respond to this letter or send them any money.”  

The letters appear to target businesses that have recently incorporated with the Secretary of State, telling them that they “may still have some items pending.” It then offers business the chance to purchase a Certificate of Status for $89.95, a Labor Law Poster for $124.95 and an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for $199.99, according to the Secretary’s Office.

“The Secretary of State’s Office is the only entity that can issue a legitimate Certificate of Existence in the state of South Carolina,” Sec. Hammond continued.  “The fee for a Certificate of Existence is set by statute and is only $10.00, not $89.95.  Also, businesses can obtain the labor law poster from the National Labor Relations Board and their EIN from the Internal Revenue Service, for free, through their respective websites.  It’s a shame that this company is trying to exploit small businesses with these types of solicitations.”

The office encourages businesses and consumers to verify that any solicitation that they recieve before sending money.

To learn more about how to spot common business scams, visit the Secretary of State’s website.