For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: June 3, 2013
"Corporate Minutes Preparation" Service Pays $15,000 Civil Penalty
(Boise) – A Saginaw, Michigan company paid a $15,000 civil penalty to resolve allegations that its direct-mail ads violated the Idaho Consumer Protection Act, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said.
The solicitation, which Corporate Records Service mailed to Idaho businesses, included an official-looking form that asked businesses to identify their shareholders, directors, and officers. For $125, Corporate Records Service claimed it would prepare corporate minutes for Idaho businesses. However, businesses that returned the form and paid the $125 received only a blank notebook.
The solicitation that Corporate Records Service mailed to more than 14,500 Idaho businesses arrived in an envelope with the words "IMPORTANT: ANNUAL MINUTES REQUIREMENT STATEMENT" printed on the outside.
"Consumers are being bombarded with bulk mail ads disguised as government or official forms," Wasden said. "Idaho law prohibits using any words, symbols, identification numbers, or other markings that may cause a reasonable consumer to believe an advertiser is associated with the government."
Idaho businesses complained to the Attorney General that the form appeared to originate from the government and that they believed they were required to complete and return it with the $125 payment.
Corporate Records Service is a d/b/a for The Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc., which previously sold goods and services in Idaho under the name The Idaho Food Compliance Center. In 2007, Attorney General Wasden obtained refunds for Idaho businesses and recovered $10,000 in costs following his investigation of the company's misrepresentations that all food establishments in Idaho were required to purchase "approved hand-washing" posters in order to comply with new Idaho food codes. Idaho has no new food statutes regarding hand-washing posters.
Today's agreement prohibits Corporate Records Service from using the following words and symbols in its ads:
Corporate Records Service also must disclose in its ads all material terms and conditions related to the advertised offer and may not include in its ads any inaccurate statutes or regulations, random identification numbers that have no purpose, or artificial deadlines.
In addition to paying a $15,000 civil penalty, the company paid the Attorney General $1,500 to reimburse him for the fees and costs incurred during his investigation. Under the Corporate Records Service's broad refund policy, businesses that requested a refund and returned the merchandise to the company received refunds.
Attorney General Wasden offers the following tips to avoid losing money to unscrupulous direct-mail advertisers:
If you lose money to a company because of a deceptive advertisement, file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. Click here to obtain a complaint form from the Attorney General's website or call 208-334-2424.
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