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State officials warn businesses about ‘Workplace Compliance – Annual Report’ scam

One of the official-looking scam forms, shared with FOX61 by a viewer who did not fall for it. (Paula Pellerin)

HARTFORD – Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Attorney General George Jepsen are warning businesses across Connecticut about a mailing being sent by “Workplace Compliance Services” purporting to be an official “Annual Report Instruction Form,” alleging that payment is required by Connecticut law.

Secretary Merrill was quoted in a press release: “Businesses registered with the state of Connecticut are only required by law to file Annual Reports with our office.” The Secretary of the State is Connecticut’s chief business registrar. “There is no legal requirement for any business to file the form they received from Workplace Compliance Services, or to pay the inflated fee indicated.”

“This scam targets small businesses and, unfortunately, resurfaces every few years in an attempt to cheat hardworking business owners,” said Attorney General George Jepsen. “Scams like this one try to appear legitimate, but business owners shouldn’t fall for it. Tell your employees to be on the lookout, and whenever in doubt about a suspicious mailing, call the Secretary of State or my office to verify legitimacy before sending any payment.”

This deceptive solicitation has an “official” appearance and references a Connecticut state law. The letter directs the business to send an inflated fee for filing an Annual Report that can be filed directly with the state at ct.gov/annualreport.

The mailings appear to target any business registered as a limited liability corporation, or LLC.

Secretary Merrill said, “If you are ever unsure about the legitimacy of a business filing notice you receive, please contact my office at 860-509-6003 or email us at crd@ct.gov. We are ready and eager to help any Connecticut business owner.”

If your business has received the bogus “Annual Report Instruction Form” form, please make a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General at attorney.general@ct.gov, including a copy of the mailing, as an investigation into the mailing in coordination with the U.S. Postal Inspector is underway.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection provided some tips for dealing with mailers in general:

• If you don’t think you owe someone money, you probably don’t. Always check your records to see if you actually signed up for a service you’re getting billed for.
• If you think a company looks suspicious, search for them online, and even search the company name along with “scam” or “fraud” to see if there are any past reports of issues.
• If you receive a bill from a company you use (like your electric company) that you don’t think you owe, don’t use the contact information from that mailer. Look up their legitimate contact information to call and confirm that the bill you received is a scam.

Here is a list of some other common scams you want should watch for.

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