Starting a business puts you and your business into the public domain. Your address and information now live online (as a requirement), as do other pieces of information such as when you need to renew with the Colorado Secretary of State, whether you have employees, and whether you have a trademark.
As a result of this required information being public, unsavory companies will have access to your information. These companies send out notices to public companies that have obligations with these public entities. They attempt to have companies pay for services that are either free or low cost.
Take, for example, your periodic report.
Your actual periodic report needs to be filed with the Colorado Secretary of State via its website every year. You receive a notice for it about three months before its final due date. It costs $10.00 to file online. The e-notice comes from the Colorado Secretary of State (e-mail suffix @sos.state.co.us). It has a header that includes the Secretary of State’s name and the website (www.sos.state.co.us). It will inform you that this is an automatically generated email at the bottom, with a contact e-mail address with a suffix @sos.state.co.us.
A scam notice or instruction will be by mail, most often. It will be titled something along the lines of “DATE – Periodic Report Instruction Form”. It will include a processing fee along with the $10 fee. It will request for checks payable to a non-state address (for example, “Workplace Compliance Services”). It may have space for a credit card form. Sometimes, they will have scary wording as well, such as informing you that you will be shut down.
If ever in doubt about a notice from the Secretary of State, Colorado Division of Labor, or United States Patent and Trademark Office, send it to your attorney or bring it to the SBDC. We can tell you if it is official or a scam.