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 many businesses around the state with filing their 2020 annual reports.
Although filing with a third party is not illegal, Secretary Warner says businesses should do their research before sharing any sensitive information or sending payments for such services. He also encourages business owners to confirm the company's business registration before contracting for services.
“If you or your business receive a suspicious solicitation from a non-government entity, please take care to research the third party and confirm it is a legitimate business and properly registered with our office,” Secretary Warner said. “Though it might look like an official notification, this does not mean that it came from a government agency.”
During the 2019 annual report filing period, 98 percent of WV businesses filed their annual reports online through the Secretary of State’s easy-to-use WV One Stop Business Portal, located online at Business4WV.gov. The total cost of filing on the site is $26. This includes a $1 online service fee.
According to Secretary Warner, a third-party vendor has similarly solicited West Virginia businesses in the past.
Thousands of West Virginia businesses received such solicitations in 2018. Following the incident, the Secretary of State’s Office required the third party to return fees to more than 2,000 West Virginia businesses that submitted them.
The provider is now also required to provide additional information in future solicitations. This includes 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 in person or by mail, or for $26 online.
The 2020 annual report filing period will begin Jan. 1, 2020, and end on July 1, 2020. By law, reports filed after the July 1 deadline will be assessed a late fee.