Archive for the ‘Secretary of State’ Category

Secretary Dunlap releases animated version of Used Vehicle Buyer’s Guide

05/15/2017 11:16 AM EDT

AUGUSTA – Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is unveiling an animated version of the Used Vehicle Buyer’s Guide, which explains the buyer’s rights when purchasing a used car in the State of Maine.

“Many people have misconceptions about the law when purchasing a used car, so we hope that putting this information in an animated format will make it easier for the public to access the facts they need to know before making such a significant purchase,” said Secretary Dunlap.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles, is the only law enforcement agency that specializes in the enforcement of regulatory compliance and prosecutes crimes under motor vehicle and criminal law. Its detectives investigate an average of 4,000 cases a year. Their work includes enforcement of laws concerning various types of vehicle dealers, title fraud, odometer fraud, automobile identification, auto theft investigations, registration evasion, insurance fraud, driver license and state identification card fraud, and consumer complaints.

How to spot dirty tricks when buying a used car

CONSUMER FORUM

Posted Feb. 13, 2017, at 10:12 a.m.
Click image to see 10 ways to spot a flood-damaged car

Click image to see 10 ways to spot a flood-damaged car

Buying a used car is one of the most stressful purchases a consumer can make. Here are some suggestions intended to ease the tension.

Check first with an established dealer. Maine’s used car dealers are bonded. Their vehicles must have valid inspection stickers, and sales include “clear” titles with no encumbrances. Shady Sales in Anywhere, Maine, might save you a few dollars, but there could be big headaches that follow.

Consumers can check with the attorney general’s office to see if dealers they’re considering have large numbers of complaints against them. Another source of information is the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in the secretary of state’s office.

Mark Silk is chief detective at the bureau. He recommends consumers deal with known dealers, because “there are so many more protections” than dealing online or through private sales.

He suggests asking to see the title to the vehicle. It should indicate its prior use — taxi, fleet vehicle, police, etc. The title also might show some “red flags,” such as having been rebuilt after a crash.

The title also should show the odometer reading when the prior owner stopped driving it. If the odometer has been replaced, it must read either zero — with accompanying door sticker stating that fact — or the same mileage as the odometer that it replaced.

Silk also urges car shoppers to look closely at any used car, for the following signs of trouble:

— Watermarks in the engine compartment.

— Rust or flaking on the undercarriage.

— Stiff wiring under the dash.

— Mud, sediment or sand in door panels.

All of the above might be signs that the car is flood-damaged. If your nose is keen, you can likely smell trouble before you buy. In any case, have a trusted mechanic check out a car before you sign a sales agreement.

Mark also reminds buyers that there is nothing in Maine law that requires a dealer to charge a document fee. While those fees can run into hundreds of dollars, charging them is up to the dealer. If they are charged, they must be conspicuously posted.

Note to readers

A few parting words are in order, as this is the last column I’ll be writing for Consumer Forum. Since its founding in 1972, a lot has changed for Northeast CONTACT (originally named C.O.M.B.A.T., for Consumers of Maine Bringing Action Together). At its peak, our all-volunteer group helped walk-ins in need of mediation or other assistance; our assistance saw the return of thousands of dollars to wronged consumers. We counseled consumers on all manner of marketplace issues, spoke at meetings and took action when it needed to be taken.

As the information era came of age, demand for our services tapered off. Soaring oil prices forced the sale of our building eight years ago, and the volunteers who were the heart and soul of Northeast CONTACT found other ways to do good work.

Now, Jane and I are also finding a new avenue, one that we hope will assist consumers. Our hearty thanks go to those many volunteers I mentioned. We plan to continue our blog, https://necontact.wordpress.com. We’ll post news about scams, recalls and items we hope will be helpful; you can search the site for past columns. There will still be links to government and nonprofit agencies with resources beyond our means.

Finally, our thanks go to the people at the Bangor Daily News who’ve offered support, encouragement and the space for this column. And to those of you who have had kind words about the work we’ve done, you will remain in our thoughts.

 

Document prep offer isn’t illegal, but it’s still a scam

CONSUMER FORUM

By Russ Van Arsdale, executive director Northeast CONTACT
Posted March 08, 2015, at 7:29 a.m.

Click image to read “alert to corporations and non-profits”

When people rip off businesses, all consumers end up paying. That’s a key reason why consumer advocates pay attention to alerts such as the one issued last week by Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.

The secretary of state’s office includes the Division of Corporations within the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions (CEC). Maine corporations have to file reports every year. Those reports may be filed online at icrs.informe.org/nei-sos-icrs/ICRS. It is important to note that the bureau does not mail out paper forms for this purpose.

However, some business owners have reported receiving official-looking documents in the mail from something called the Maine Council for Corporations. The document looks something like the CEC’s annual report form. However, it is nothing that’s authorized by the CEC, and filling it out does not meet that office’s reporting requirements.

The letter is a solicitation, offering to draw up “corporate consent records in lieu of meeting minutes” for a fee of $125. Although the letter states correctly that Maine Council for Corporations is not a government body, some business people have mistaken the form in the mailing for a government document.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the secretary of state issued a similar advisory last year. Mailings from a “Corporate Records Service” came from the same address (126 Western Avenue #338, Augusta, ME) and contained a similar offer. After learning of a mailing in April 2013, state officials sent emails to thousands of business owners, warning of the questionable offer.

Complaints about the misleading nature of the mailings elicit indifferent responses. The company told the Better Business Bureau, “Our order form does clearly state in bold print, we are NOT a government agency and that we do not have a contract with the government to provide our service.”

Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin have all had legal tangles with the owners of Corporate Records Service. The settlement in Indiana included an order to mail refunds to businesses that had paid for the company’s services; other settlements involved fines.

The principals in the company also operate The Mandatory Poster Agency, which offers for sale a copy of employer laws and regulations on a laminated wall poster. Experience suggests that, almost as soon as such a poster is delivered, regulations are updated or revised; the posters are available for free anyway (www.maine.gov/labor/posters/index.html).

Dunlap said of the Maine Council for Corporations offer, “There’s nothing illegal about this … but we don’t require these documents.” Dunlap said charging $125 to prepare unnecessary paperwork is “very much like a carnival scam.”

Maine corporations are required to make annual reports to the secretary of state’s Division of Corporations by June 1. Dunlap urges business owners with questions to call that office at 624-7752.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit https://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Issues Alert to Corporations and Non-Profit Entities Regarding Solicitations from Council for Corporations

03/04/2015 03:52 PM EST

PRESS RELEASE

AUGUSTA – Numerous Maine corporations have received mailings recently from a business operating under the name Maine Council for Corporations, whose address is usually listed as 126 Western Ave., #338, Augusta, ME 04330-7252. These unsolicited mailings include a form titled “2015 – Annual Records Solicitation Form” and an offer from the Maine Council for Corporations to prepare documents to compile annual corporate records, for a fee.

**Please be advised that the form provided by the Maine Council for Corporations is not a document prescribed or recognized by the Department of the Secretary of State. This is not being sent on behalf of the Department of the Secretary of State, and the records described are not required to be filed with the Secretary of State.**

The mailings from the “Maine Council for Corporations” include an official-looking document titled “2015 – Annual Records Solicitation Form” and instructions for completing the form. The Solicitation Form includes an offer from the Maine Council for Corporations to prepare “corporate consent records in lieu of meeting minutes” for a fee of $125.

The Solicitation Form looks somewhat like the CEC’s annual report form. Although the solicitation correctly states that Maine Council for Corporations is not a government agency, some corporations have confused the Solicitation Form for the CEC’s prescribed annual report.

The form provided in this mailing is not an official annual report and will not be accepted as an annual report if submitted to the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions. Additionally, the preparation of these records does not satisfy the requirements to file the annual report with the Secretary of State.

The legal deadline to file annual reports with the Secretary of State’s office is June 1st, and those reports may be filed online: http://icrs.informe.org/nei-sos-icrs/ICRS . Please note that the Division of Corporations does not mail out the annual report form.

The Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions posted an alert last year about similar solicitations to Maine corporations from Corporate Records Service, whose address is identical to the address for Maine Council for Corporations.

Any corporation that has questions about the solicitation or form is encouraged to obtain advice from its lawyer or business advisor. Also, the Maine Division of Corporations can be contacted at (207) 624-7752 for information about corporate annual report and other business entity filing requirements under Maine law.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Alerts Public of Potential Phone Scam

PRESS RELEASE
06/09/2014 09:27 AM EDT
AUGUSTA, Maine-Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is notifying the public of a potential phone scam. Detectives within the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) received complaints from citizens who have received phone calls claiming to represent the “Maine DMV.” The callers say they are soliciting collection of alleged unpaid fines, and threatening the recipients with suspension of their driver licenses if fees are not paid.

“The Bureau of Motor Vehicles would never make solicitation calls to collect fine money or reinstatement fees,” said Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State. “The citizen is given notice by mail, either from our office or the courts that they are pending suspension. Then it is up to them to take care of their situation. If they don’t, the consequences do become compounded, but we count on our citizens to do what we already know they do very well-respect the law.”

Caller identification technology shows the calls to originate from the “Department of Motor Vehicles Bangor” (with the actual BMV Bangor branch phone number 207-942-1319). The caller states that failure to pay the fine money will result in license suspension and a warrant issued for their arrest.

Maine BMV officials, law enforcement, and the Secretary of State are strongly urging citizens to avoid falling victim to what appears to be a financial scam being perpetrated through these phone calls. The Department of the Secretary of State, including BMV, does not call citizens to collect money.

Anyone who has received such a call is encouraged to contact the main office of the Secretary of State at (207) 626-8400. If you would like to inquire about the status of your driver’s license, please contact the BMV at 624-9000 Ext. 52100.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Issues Alert to Corporations and Non-Profit Entities Regarding Solicitations from Corporate Records Service

PRESS RELEASE
03/26/2014 05:03 PM EDT

Review BBB complaints

AUGUSTA – Numerous Maine corporations have received mailings recently from a business operating under the name Corporate Records Service, whose address is usually listed as 125 Western Ave. #338 Augusta, ME 04330-7252. These unsolicited mailings include a form titled “2014 – Annual Records Solicitation Form” and an offer from Corporate Records Service to prepare documents “to satisfy the annual corporate records for your corporation” for a fee of $125. This is not being sent on behalf of the Department of the Secretary of State, and the records described are not required to be filed with the Secretary of State.

The solicitation correctly states that Corporate Records Services is not a government agency. However, the form of the mailing and the way the informationis presented may create the impression that this is an official government communication. The form provided by Corporate Records Service is not a document prescribed or recognized by the Department of the Secretary of State.The form provided by Corporate Records Service is not an official annual report and will not be accepted as an annual report if submitted to the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions. Additionally, the preparation of these records does not satisfy the requirements to file the annual report with the Secretary of State. The legal deadline to file annual reports with the Secretary of State’s office is June 1st, and those reports may be filed on line: http://icrs.informe.org/nei-sos-icrs/ICRS .

Please contact the Division of Corporations at (207) 624-7752 should you have any further questions or concerns regarding these solicitations. Any corporation that has questions about the solicitation is also encouraged to obtain advice from its lawyer or business advisor.

Maine secretary of state warns businesses about ‘scam’ letter in green envelope

By Whit Richardson, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 05, 2013, at 5:38 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 05, 2013, at 7:08 p.m.

Small businesses owners across Maine received this green envelope and form that Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is calling a “scam.”

AUGUSTA, Maine — If you’re a small business owner, you may have received a green envelope in the mail this week that appears as if it came from the state. It did not, and Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is calling it “a scam.”

The letters come from a company called Corporate Records Service and are labeled “Annual Report Solicitation Form.” The return mailing address is 126 Western Ave., #338 in Augusta.

The included form looks official and cites Maine statute having to do with the filing of annual reports and minutes of annual meetings. Companies in Maine are required to file an annual report with the state, but it’s nothing more than the names of the officers and the registered agent. Businesses are not required to file meeting minutes.

“I don’t hesitate to use the word ‘scam’ on this,” Dunlap told the Bangor Daily News on Thursday.

Valerie Chiasson, an attorney and owner of a small law firm in Ellsworth, Giunta & Chiasson LLC, received a stack of the letters in the mail on Thursday because she acts as the registered agent for many small businesses.

The letters are an offer to prepare a corporate record for those businesses that choose not to hold an annual meeting, and to instead complete a Consent in Lieu of an annual meeting, Chiasson said.

While Chiasson doesn’t want to use the word “scam,” she is worried that the letters could “deceive” small business owners.

“I’m afraid that if people don’t read it carefully — and a very busy small business owner might do that — they won’t realize that they don’t have to pay someone to do this for them,” she told the BDN.

Whether what this company is doing constitutes a crime “is a difficult thing to put a pin on,” according to Dunlap.

He notes that the envelopes are clearly marked with “This is not a government document” and that the company is offering a service — it’s just not one the state requires, as the letters might lead a business owner to believe.

“That’s how they’re getting away with this,” he said.

This is not the first time Corporate Record Service has attempted to raise funds from unsuspecting business owners with these solictations. The company sent out similar requests in January and June. (Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s alert, June 19, 2013)

Dunlap recommends business owners with questions or concerns contact the Division of Corporations at 624-7752 or www.maine.gov/sos/cec/corp/.

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