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We are all scared of getting a letter from the government, especially ones that say you owe more money!

You don’t want to be caught doing something illegal or lose valuable protections for your new business. So you pay. But scammers know this and prey on new business owners (and yes, even long-time business owners) to get them to part with cold hard cash.

Here, I talk about two different practices that scammers use on unsuspecting business owners.

Labor Law Posters

As soon as you setup your LLC or corporation, you’ll get a wave of unsolicited mail in your mailbox.

See, these registrations are public records. And you have to provide an address on these registrations so that your company can be served with litigation, if it ever comes to that.

There are companies out there that will collect these addresses and other information for marketing purposes. One of the longest running scams is from companies trying to sell you labor law posters.

Each state requires that you have certain posters up in your offices to give your employees information about their rights. Things like workplace safety and workers compensation, anti-discrimination laws and your rights, and more. Recently, you also had to post certain things relating to your COVID policies.

But almost without fail, these posters can be had for free from the various state and federal agencies. You can print them out and post them as appropriate.

However, these scammers take the “required” portion of the law and twist it. They make you think that you have to BUY the posters. And the purchase forms often are made to look like they are coming from the government itself.

That’s why these are scams! Don’t buy the posters from these companies. Look for the required posters on your state websites. Also, if you outsource your payroll or HR functions, many of these companies will provide you the required posters as part of the included service.

Trademark Fees

The latest version of this is coming for new trademark applicants.

The scammers are looking for the same information – contact names and addresses and trying to make you pay extra fees that are not required. Sometimes they are offering up services, again not required, that should be provided by lawyers.

The notices are scary sounding – miss a deadline because you don’t pay a fee and you’ll lose your trademark registration. Almost all fees relating to trademark registrations are paid at the time of your filing. You will normally not get a bill to tell you to pay more money.

Also, these fees will generally be handled by your trademark attorney and then billed to you (or you’ve paid in advance as part of the retainer). And trademark is something that I definitely recommend that you get an attorney for!

And no, I won’t be your trademark attorney. When it comes to filing for trademarks, you’ll want an attorney that specializes in trademarks. There are so many technical things that can go wrong. If you don’t have a trademark attorney, let me know and I will refer you to any one of the various trademark attorneys that I know.

In any case, your trademark attorney will be able to tell you whether it is a fee that you need to pay.

Protect Your Cash

As with just about any solicitation, it helps to be wary when you receive unsolicited letters or emails.

These scams are where having a relationship with an experienced business attorney can really pay off for you! If you don’t know whether it is a scam or legitimate, you can ask someone else that will know.

You can send them these letters and usually get a very quick answer saying that it is a scam and you can disregard. Or I’ll show you where you can comply with the laws for cheaper and less expensive ways. Or tell you that you may not even need them, for whatever reason.

That’s part of the deal with an outside general counsel. You have a quick resource to save you from paying for something you don’t need or that is an outright scam.

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