State officials are once again warning of a scam connected to annual report business filings.

State agencies recently fielded more than 100 complaints from Connecticut businesses that received what were described as official looking mailers seeking additional fees to file annual reports with the state.

Past scams warned businesses they could be “administratively dissolved” for failing to file the report, then offered to assist with the filing for a fee.

These extra fees are not necessary and can be avoided by filing directly with the Secretary of the State’s Office beginning Jan. 1.

“Small business owners should be on alert for government imposter scams like these and protect themselves by only using official websites to file their reports,” Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said in a statement.

Resemble Government Documents

The scam appears to arrive each year around this time in envelopes designed to resemble official government documents.

The mailings incorporate official looking elements such as seals, bar codes, and references to statutes and regulations.

It takes a careful reading to determine that the scam mailings are not official documents and can be ignored.

They may include terms such as “IMPORTANT,” “OPEN IMMEDIATELY,” or “TIME SENSITIVE” to create a false sense of urgency.

Businesses that received the scam letter say it takes a careful reading to determine that it’s not an official document and can be ignored.

Attorney General William Tong said his office is investigating the source, including whether it’s a company that previously reached a settlement with Connecticut over a similar government imposter fraud.

Fine Print

Merrill and Tong warned small businesses that they could end up paying hefty fees for services they don’t need—or worse.

“These types of scams can pose another risk: Some scammers also ask business owners to authorize the scammers to act on their behalf with government agencies,” the pair said.

Small businesses could end up paying hefty fees for services they don't need—or worse.

With that authorization, the scammers have been known to submit filings that create the appearance that they own or control the business—then open bank accounts or get loans in the business’ name.

“We are in the midst of an economic crisis and businesses cannot afford to pay for services they don’t need,” Tong said.

“Be sure to look at the fine print and make sure you are dealing directly with legitimate state agencies to file only what is required.”