Officials Warn Against Potential Government Imposter Scam Targeting Connecticut Businesses(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong, Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas, Commissioner of Banking Jorge Perez, and Commissioner of Consumer Protection Bryan T. Cafferelli today warned businesses to avoid an ongoing potential government imposter scam targeting Connecticut businesses. In this scheme, a company called CT UCC Statement Service, attempts to get businesses to pay $90 for a copy of a Uniform Commercial Code report. While the solicitation is designed to look like a government notice, this company has no affiliation with the State of Connecticut. In fact, UCC reports may be accessed for free via the Secretary of the State’s website at business.ct.gov.
A UCC financing statement is a form documenting that a creditor, such as a bank, has a lien on a borrower’s personal property. These forms are filed with the Secretary of the State and provide proof of the assets subject to the lien to other creditors.
While the company notes in small print that they are “not affiliated with any state or government agency” and that businesses are not required to use their services, such a disclaimer may not be sufficient.
“This company has zero affiliation with the State of Connecticut and there is no need to pay for their useless services. If you receive this letter, do not respond. If you have paid any money to this business, please file a complaint with my office,” said Attorney General Tong.
“Businesses should be on high alert to avoid becoming a target of scams, especially as we near the annual report filing deadline on March 31,” said Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas. “Our business.ct.gov website can provide members of the public with access to many documents free of charge, including copies of UCC reports and liens.”
“It is important for businesses to keep an eye out for these types of scams. This company in particular, targets business entities that recently obtained a loan or other extension of credit. These mailed solicitations are misleading and deceptive as they attempt to charge a fee in exchange for obtaining documents that businesses can access at no cost. We advise businesses to carefully read any correspondence that appears to charge a fee in order to obtain any document(s) associated with a loan or other extension of credit. Before paying any type of fee, businesses should independently verify the company and contact the appropriate government agency with any concerns,” said Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez.
“Scammers pay attention to when filing deadlines for businesses are looming and then try to take advantage of a stressful and busy time for business owners by asking them to pay for services that are actually free,” said Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Bryan T. Cafferelli. “Business owners should never give in to threatening letters, emails, or calls that encourage them to act immediately or face consequences. Those kinds of pressure tactics are almost always the signs of a scam. And if you’re unsure, you can do research online, or send an email or make a phone call to the correct agency to verify the notice you received is false before paying any money to a scammer.”
Government imposter scams can take many forms and can target individuals and businesses alike. Scammers may mail solicitations or send emails to businesses to “advise” them that they must purchase certain products or forms, or file particular reports in order to be in compliance with the law. The scammers then offer to assist businesses with satisfying these requirements in exchange for a fee.
Scammers are careful to design their mailings to resemble official government documents by incorporating elements such as seals, bar codes, and references to statutes and regulations. The mailings may include terms such as “IMPORTANT,” “OPEN IMMEDIATELY,” or “TIME SENSITIVE” to create a false sense of urgency. Businesses which fall prey to these tactics end up paying significant fees for services they either do not need, or could take care of themselves for much less money.
To report a scam or instance of fraud to the Office of the Attorney General, please file a complaint online here: https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint.