HARRISBURG – Attorney General Michelle Henry announced that a settlement was reached with a Florida-based business that had been targeting new businesses in Pennsylvania and posing as the PA Department of State to sell certificates of good standing.
The settlement, in the form of a Consent Petition, was entered with FL Certificate Services, LLC, resolving an OAG lawsuit claiming that it was operating a scam in Pennsylvania under the name “PA Certificate Service.”
The Office of Attorney General filed suit in 2021, regarding PA Certificate Service mailers to newly-registered businesses soliciting certificates.
“Many small businesses were tricked into believing they were buying certificates from the Department of State when, in reality, they were paying inflated prices to scammers,” Attorney General Henry said. “My office will not allow Pennsylvania’s state agencies to be imitated, nor will we tolerate scams targeting business owners and residents. Pennsylvania is no place for deceptive business practices.”
Under the terms of the Consent Petition, FL Certificate Services, LLC agreed to stop doing business in Pennsylvania and will pay restitution to any Pennsylvania entity and individual who purchased an overpriced certificate.
According to the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office on July 13, 2021, PA Certificate Service conducted its scam by sending letters to Pennsylvanians who recently incorporated a new business with the PA Department of State. The letter, which allegedly imitated the appearance of a letter issued by the Commonwealth, told the recipient that they “have one step left” to obtain a “Pennsylvania Certificate of Good Standing” for $87.25. The Pennsylvania Department of State offers good standing certificates for only $40.00, and they are completely optional.
Anyone who received a letter from “PA Certificate Service” and paid $87.25 should submit a complaint to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General within the next ninety (90) days by visiting https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/consumer-complaint/. You may also contact the office via phone at 1-800-441-2555 or by email at sc***@at*************.gov.
Pennsylvanians should be advised that even though PA Certificate Service is going out of business in Pennsylvania, “certificate scams” or similar government imposter scams are popular schemes that continue to operate in the Commonwealth and nationwide. If you recently created a business entity in Pennsylvania and received a letter requesting payment for a “Certificate of Good Standing,” a “Labor Law Poster” or anything similar, be sure to read carefully for any disclosures that the sender is not a government agency. Scammers will also often mask their real address behind a box at a UPS store or similar place.
If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to report possible scams to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.
The Consent Petition was filed in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Attorney General Mark Wolfe and will become effective upon approval by the Court.