In the last 4 months, the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) issued multiple warnings about fraudulent notices received through postal mail by businesses regarding submission of annual business reports. Not only have state officials seen fraudulent notices from an unaffiliated source called “Workplace Compliance Services,” but now they are seeing a second unaffiliated source called “C.P.S.” sending businesses and the public similarly deceptive notices.
Unfortunately, fraudulent or deceptive solicitations and notices from illegitimate sources are nothing new for business owners. Companies routinely receive deceptive solicitations that cover just about every aspect of business, from annual reports down to corporate shareholder meeting minutes. Often times, these fraudulent solicitations will mention details about the business, such as names of officers and directors, giving the appearance of legitimacy. These solicitations will warn about fines and penalties, and can include official state letterheads on the documents, appearing to be coming from the state. If you are ever unsure about the legitimacy of a notice you have received about your business, be sure to confirm the action and the source are legitimate. The best way, in most cases, is simply to contact your Secretary of State.
For Hawaii, these unaffiliated sources known as “Workplace Compliance Services” and “C.P.S.” have been labeling their fraudulent mailings “2019 – Annual Report Instruction Form (Hawaii Businesses),” with instructions to fill out and submit a provided form, along with a $125 payment, in order to fulfill the state’s annual business reporting requirements. However, the DCCA does not endorse or utilize any third-party company to file or collect annual business reports and payments. LLCs, corporations, and partnerships of all varieties can file their annual business reports online at the DCCA website, and the fees range between $2.50 to $12.50.
We strongly encourage all businesses to learn to identify these fraudulent solicitations and notices and report these companies to the Secretary of State where your business is located. It’s important to get these issues known and create awareness, as many state offices will take legal action once they are aware of the severity of the issue and have the necessary information about these deceptive companies.