Charleston, W.Va. — The West Virginia Secretary of State's Office was recently made aware of mailed solicitations by a third party offering to assist businesses around the state with filing their mandated 2021 annual reports, which are due by July 1, 2021.
Although receiving assistance for annual report filing from a third party is not illegal, Secretary of State Mac Warner says businesses should consider their options and research before sharing sensitive information or payment for such services. He also encourages business owners to confirm that the company is authorized to do business in WV before contracting for services.
“If you or your business receive a suspicious or misleading solicitation from a non-government entity offering to file your 2021 annual report, please take care to first confirm it is a legitimate business and properly registered with our office,” Warner said. “Though it might look like an official notification, these kinds of misleading solicitations could be the work of out-of-state fraudsters. Business owners, now more than ever, must remain on the lookout for scams.”
According to Warner, third-party vendors have solicited WV businesses for the past several years. In 2018 and 2019, the Secretary of State’s Office took action against one third party and required them to send additional notices and return fees to more than 2,000 West Virginia businesses who were misled.
The vendor is required to provide clear disclaimers in all solicitations in WV, which includes a notification that the third party is not associated with the Secretary of State's Office and that businesses can file their annual reports directly for the statutory fee of $25.
During the 2020 annual report filing period, 98 percent of WV businesses filed their annual reports online through the Secretary of State’s One Stop Business Portal.
The 2021 annual report filing period will begin Jan. 1, 2021, and end on July 1, 2021. 2021 annual reports may not be accepted prior to January 1, 2021. WV businesses are encouraged to file their own annual reports using the One Stop Business Portal, which can be accessed online at Business4WV.gov.