Saturday, April 2, 2011

Protect your company - Colorado has almost zero protections against someone editing your state business records

Update January 26, 2012: Colorado now has the option to lock down business registrations.

Almost zero . . .

In the State of Colorado the principle/owner of a business can create a corporation online, file amendments, corrections to contact information and annual reports.

It's nice to have that ability online, and the fee's for filing over the Internet are substantially lower than filing by paper.

But, and this is a HUGE BUT: there is no way to password protect your ability to alter your records.

This was exposed half a year ago, one very good write up about the problem was posted on ComputerWorld: Colorado warns of major corporate ID theft scam (Link pops a new tab or window.)

Seems like a good time to revisit the problem given my feelings about a potential scam snail mail solicitation received today.

So what should a business owner or principle do to protect their corporate ID in Colorado?

Buried within the sage but overly general advice on protecting your business posted by the Colorado Secretary of State is the one thing you can do to be notified when your corporate record is altered: add your email to their notification list.

Here are the steps:

1) Get thee to

2) Click the left upper link offering to "Subscribe to E-mail Notification Services"

3) Click the first link under the heading: "E-mails specific to a business organization record" entitled "Click here to subscribe to e-mail notification regarding a specific record"

4) This brings you to a search page, you can either enter your state ID, or search on your business name. After entering your search criteria, click the Search button.

5) Click the ID Number of YOUR business from the list after doing the search.

6) This brings you to a summary page of the business record. Find and click the link at the bottom that states: "Subscribe to E-mail Notification Regarding this Record"

7) Enter a valid email address and click the Subscribe button.

8) Within the hour (after I tried this it took about 50 minutes) you should receive an email from the Colorado Department of State ( confirming the subscription.

. . .

This is just WEAK. Complex steps to subscribe, no real security. No way to verify anyone's identity. Oh sure, it's a felony to misrepresent yourself on the states website, but since when has that stopped the criminals?

Corporate Controllers Unit - Scam Smelling Snail Mail

Scam? Spam? Both? I got some snail mail today from an organization calling themselves "Corporate Controllers Unit" or the initials "CCU" offering a very expensive service: for the low low fee of $225 per year they will file my company's annual report with the state where I do business.

This report costs me about 10 minutes of time and a $10 fee when I file directly with the state.

The envelope looks like an official mailing. So does the letter inside, filled with legalese threatening dire things unless you file on time. Thankfully the fine print at the very bottom lets you know it's "just" a solicitation.

Couple of other clues. The organization uses a PO Box. A search on the web does not find any contact info, but it does bring up about six pages of the same couple of articles touting their service via spam blogs. Someone hired a blackhat SEO agent to market their stuff.

My advice: save your money and your sanity. Companies should file directly with the state as they have in the past.

My suspicion: this might be an attempt to steal your companies ID.

Update: This smells more like a scam the more I don't see . . . let me explain:

I cannot find anything on this company at all, other than the aforementioned spam blogs re-posting the same few articles over and over. No contact info, no phone, no web site, just the PO Box. And I think my Google-Fu is pretty darn good, thank you. If it was out there, I would have found it by now.

Other than the comments below, I've gotten calls from two of my clients and one of my business partners asking my opinion - they also received one of these in the mail today.

Update 2: Remember I said 6 pages of search results? That was 4 hours ago. Something fishy is up, because the returned results as of this update (8:30 PM Saturday night) presents over 29 pages now, and except for this blog the results are all the same couple of articles over and over on different odd domain sites.

Update 3: Denver Channel 9 posted this article at 7:27 AM MDT Monday April 4.
State warns of potentially misleading letters (from Corporate Controllers Unit)

Update 4: Denver Post finally listed an article with more information, including a quote from the Attorney General that this is most likely a scam.
"Gessler warns businesses, non-profits of "deceptive mail solicitation" (from Corporate Controllers Unit)