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AG Nessel, LARA Announce Settlement With Florida-Based Company for Misleading Small Businesses
July 13, 2020
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) announced today that small businesses across Michigan are entitled to a refund under a recent settlement reached with the Florida-based CA Certificate Service LLC, doing business as MI Certificate Service.
A lawsuit filed last year alleged the company sent a form intentionally designed to resemble an official state document to new Michigan businesses. The form requested an immediate response and a check for $72.50 to complete the process of obtaining a Michigan Certificate of Good Standing. A Certificate of Good Standing is an optional form that, if needed, can be obtained directly from the state for $10. The lawsuit alleged that these mailings constituted fraudulent misrepresentation, nuisance and that the company was not authorized to do business in Michigan.
“I appreciate the collaborative effort of my assistant attorneys general and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in reaching this settlement,” Nessel said. “The State will not tolerate attempts to intentionally mislead Michigan businesses or residents, and my office will hold those who try accountable for their deceptive practices.”
“Be diligent when reviewing mailings that may look official and offer help in performing services that are either not required, do not exist or both”, said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “In partnership with Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office, we were able to hold this company responsible for violating the law.”
The settlement includes an agreement by CA Certificate Service LLC to permanently cease sending solicitations to entities or individuals in Michigan. The company also agreed to pay $5,000 to the Attorney General’s office, and to pay full refunds to impacted businesses that make such a request within the next six months.
About 2,500 businesses will be eligible for a full refund of $72.50. Eligible businesses have already been identified and will receive direct notice. Refund requests may be submitted to 888-842-9265.
The Attorney General’s office and LARA frequently receive complaints from businesses about mailings designed to look like either an official government form or an invoice for services already rendered, when in fact the mailing is a solicitation seeking new business. Many of these mailings hide text that indicate the form is not required, but not all do.
Businesses should be cautious if they receive any requests or bills they do not recognize and can contact LARA if they have questions about forming a business. Additional information is available on the Corporations Division website or by calling the Corporations Division at 517-241-6470.