The California Secretary of State has found fake Certificates of Status are being circulated from websites and social media messaging applications with payment platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat. Some are making false and fraudulent representations about the obligation to obtain a Certificate of Status to induce businesses to pay for bogus certificates. Some pose as legitimate intermediaries, others specifically offer fake certificates of status.(see example (PDF)).
These Certificates of Status do not come from the California Secretary of State’s office. These private entities have no affiliation with or authorization to act on behalf of the State of California or the California Secretary of State. They are illegally issuing fraudulent Certificates of Status for business entities registered with the California Secretary of State.
Avoid being duped into buying a fake Certificate of Status by knowing what a business entity’s obligations are and who you’re doing business with.
A Certificate of Status can only be issued by the California Secretary of State who is the official custodian of business records for the State of California.
No business is required to go through another private entity in order to obtain documents or certificates from the California Secretary of State's office and no private entity can issue these documents, although a business entity may use an intermediary to submit filings, request a certificate of status, and pay fees to our office.
Businesses do not necessarily need to obtain a Certificate of Status. A Certificate of Status is an official document issued by the California Secretary of State attesting that the business has filed and paid the fee for the annual or biennial statement of information and is current paying the franchise taxes. Businesses need a Certificate of Status if a government agency requires one to register to do business in another state or country or for a professional license, business license or permit. Businesses also need a Certificate of Status if a private individual or concern requests one. Reasons for such requests are to obtain a loan or apply for a credit card or line of credit, establish a business relationship with a vendor or supplier or provide to potential buyers or investors.
Action to Take
If you have been a victim of an online or Internet enabled scam, you should file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
A Certificate of Status can be ordered from the bizfile Online portal once a user is logged in. For more information on user access, please see the Help Guide to the bizfile Online Portal Manual. A Certificate of Status can also be obtained by submitting a Business Entities Records Order Form to the California Secretary of State's Sacramento office either in person or by mail.
** Disclaimer: Although every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained on the bizfile Online portal is accurate, the California Secretary of State's office is not responsible for any loss, consequence, or damage resulting directly or indirectly from reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of the information that is provided. All such information is provided "as is."