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“Certificate of Existence” Filing Scam against Tennessee businesses

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.”

“Our Division of Business Services and myself personally have been hearing multiple complaints from business owners across Tennessee about these misleading mailers,” said Secretary Hargett. “We have seen scams like this before, with similar deceptive language that implies that businesses must have a certificate of existence to complete its formation or to fully operate in the state. This is not the case. Unfortunately, businesses who order a certificate of existence through these scammers may be paying for something that is totally unnecessary – at the very least they will be spending $50 to $150 more than what our office charges for this document when ordered from us directly.” 

The misleading mailer is titled “2021 Certificate of Existence Request” and has been sent to businesses across the state—pretending to require all Tennessee businesses to pay a fee of either $83.00 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 onlineat https://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: “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.

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.

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