January 19, 2023
By Jackson R. Nock
As we ring in the new year, it is time to think about filing your business’ annual registration, an annual requirement for all businesses registered in Georgia. This filing should only take you about twenty minutes, will usually cost only $50 depending on which type of entity your business is, and you only need limited information to effectuate the filing.
However, despite the relative ease of filing your business’s annual registration, we have seen a growing type of scam preying on business owners in Georgia around the turn of every new year—exactly the time that many look to file their annual registrations. As all Georgia businesses must provide certain publicly available information to the Secretary of State’s office, including the address of the business’ principal place of business, the business’ control number, and the date that the business was formed, bad actors can easily access any business’ contact information and use that information to prey on those inexperienced with the filing process.
Typically, this predatory action often involves an official-looking mailer stating that the deadline to file a business’ annual registration is imminent and urging business owners to complete and send a form, along with an exorbitantly high fee, back to the sender. Many are duped into thinking the mailer is an official state mailing, however, in reality, the mailer is actually sent on behalf of a private company looking to reap a huge profit off of unsuspecting business owners. Worse yet, these mailers also often lack solicitation language as required by Georgia law, making it difficult to determine their legitimacy. While these companies may indeed eventually file your annual registration, any amount paid in excess of $50—and there are reports of some of these companies charging in excess of $300 —is a windfall to the third-party annual registration filer, and it is much more cost-effective to immediately discard these mailings if you should receive them.
Now that you are equipped to look out for this predatory practice, keep in mind that your business’ annual registration is more than just a check-the-box filing where you can make key changes to your business’ records. A few questions to consider: Did you elect new corporate officers in the last year? Did your business move to a new location? Would you like to update your registered agent? (Having a lawyer serve in such a capacity can help your business maintain greater privacy, and ensures that process servers avoid your principal place of business in the event a lawsuit is filed).
Should you ever need assistance with these key considerations regarding your business’ annual registration or if you need help determining whether any annual registration mailing you receive is legitimate, do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Flint, Connolly & Walker who can provide your business with the guidance it needs and place it in the best possible position to succeed in the new year.
Jackson R. Nock is an associate attorney with Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP currently representing clients in various corporate and transactional matters, including business formation, mergers and acquisitions, commercial contractual matters, nonprofit corporation matters, and corporate governance and compliance.