Certificates of Good Standing for Maryland Businesses: Don’t Let the Scam Fool You
Fraud and misinformation thrive in uncertain times, and the age of the COVID-19 pandemic certainly qualifies. Small business owners are fearing a dismal future and receiving conflicting information about what is next regarding being open for business, rent payments on commercial properties, tax deductions, and business loans. The unwritten rule of survival for small businesses during the pandemic has been to pay what you can and to negotiate about delaying payment on the rest. Every day, you receive notices by email and postal mail about money that you should be paying, and it is obvious that you cannot pay all of it in the foreseeable future. Given these circumstances, it can be either disturbing or comforting that some of the letters business owners receive that ostensibly ask them to pay money to the State of Maryland are fakes. A Maryland small business lawyer can help you avoid falling for the current scam and other fraudulent business dealings.
Certificates of Status for Maryland Businesses: The Real Thing
Before a business can obtain or renew certain types of licenses in Maryland, it must obtain a Certificate of Status, sometimes called a Certificate of Good Standing. These certificates, issued by the Department of Assessments and Taxation, verify that the business entity is up to date on paying its taxes and fees. The easiest way to get a Certificate of Status is to order one online at the Maryland Business Express website. Except when government offices are closed for in-person service due to the pandemic, you can also apply in person at the Corporate Charter Division office at 301 W. Preston Street in Baltimore. When you apply in person for a Certificate of Status, the certificate costs $40. If you have any outstanding tax obligations or overdue fees, you must pay them before you can obtain a Certificate of Status.
The Certificate of Good Standing Scam: Don’t Fall for It
In late 2019, a scam related to Maryland Certificates of Status circulated by mail, and additional copies of the fraudulent letters have started to be reported by a new group of recipients in the summer of 2020. The letters say “2020 Certificate of Good Standing Request Form” at the top and have a fake “official seal of the Secretary of State” as well as a barcode. Each letter even has a document number and a customer service number. The letters ask recipients to send checks and money orders payable to “MD Certificate Service.”
In fact, the Secretary of State does not issue Certificates of Status; the Department of Assessments and Taxation does. If you receive a letter like this, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission, the United States Postal Inspection Service, or the Maryland Secretary of State.
Let Us Help You Today
A Washington DC small business lawyer knows which certificates you really need to continue operating your business and which requests and notices about business licenses are fakes. Contact Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing for a consultation on your case.