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MN Secretary of State, Attorney General's offices warn of 'apparent scam'

Thousands of business owners may have received official-looking letters from a "private entity" called C.P.F.S.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Secretary of State’s office is warning business owners an official-looking letter offering annual renewal for a fee did not come from them.

“We’re getting possibly anywhere between 50 and a hundred emails every day from folks saying ‘is this something I have to do for my business,’” said Juin Charnell, Director of Business Services for the Secretary of State’s office.

Charnell said the office started receiving those emails and calls after they sent out a reminder email about the renewal application – which people can submit in-person or online for free – back in September. She estimates thousands of business owners may have received the letter from “a private entity” called C.P.F.S.

“It could have been all 40,000 from last year, in addition to the 37,700 that have been formed so far this year,” she said.

The letter itself resembles an official form, with a barcode and boxes. It says the recipient can file for their annual renewal by simply filling out the form and paying $95. The letter also reads: “C.P.F.S. is not a government agency and does not have a contract with any governmental agency to provide this service.”

Charnell says people in two other states have reportedly also received letters from this company. The company itself is not a registered business in Minnesota.

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KARE 11 reached out to the Minnesota Attorney General’s office to find out if they’re investigating the letter and the company behind it. In an emailed response, Deputy Chief of Staff John Stiles wrote: “we can’t comment on the specifics of this apparent scam,” but noted several resources to help “consumers and business owners about how to identify and avoid scams like these.”

To learn more about those resources, click here: https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Brochures/pubBusinessComplianceSolicitationScams.pdf and https://www.ag.mn.us/Brochures/pubFakeInvoicesTargetedAtBusiness.pdf

Anyone concerned about this letter is also urged to contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office at: 651-296-3353 or 800-657-3787 or submit an online complaint form on the Attorney General’s website at: www.ag.state.mn.us/Office/Complaint.asp.

Meantime, anyone interested in the official renewal form can find it here: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/media/1569/llcdomesticforeignrenewal.pdf