In a world where tricky spam, and even trickier phishing scams, constantly flood your inbox as a small business owner, it can be hard to know what is and isn’t legitimate email, especially when you see something you maybe weren’t expecting.
Today, I got an email from the Colorado Secretary of State (Hah! Suurrree!) that I ignored for 10 years as what I thought was fraudulent spam to get my business details. Finally, I ended up reading a newspaper article about how it WAS used for fraud, but not the way I thought.
Colorado State Periodic Report
If you took my advice and setup your freelance writing business as an LLC — O.K. fine! Or, if you did your own research or took someone else’s advice — you filed some paperwork to register your business. If you did that in Colorado, you filed that paperwork (online now) with the Colorado Secretary of State website at www.sos.state.co.us
Congratulations! You’re legit.
After that, you probably went and got an EIN for your writing business so you don’t have to use your Social Security number on your W9 Forms. Then, if you’re like me, you forgot about the whole thing and spent the next 10 years running your business without any interaction with the government, except quarterly tax payments and filing a Schedule C.
Only, it turns out that email from the Colorado Secretary of State about filing a Periodic Report isn’t tricky spam. It’s the law.
Every year, as an LLC in the State of Colorado you have to file a Periodic Report. (Yes, that’s its real name.) Basically, all it is confirming your contact information, or updating it, and paying $10.
I don’t like paying the $10 for nothing either, but that’s the law.
It’s a really easy web form to fill out. Here’s a link. (If you are suspicious of my link, good for you. It is a perfectly, safe and legit link, but if you want to verify yourself, just go to the Colorado Secretary of State webpage and click on File a Business Document. Then click File for an Existing Business. Then follow the links until you see Periodic Report.)
Fill out your information, and then enter a credit card number to pay your $10 and you’re good to go for another year.
Colorado State Periodic Report Scam
Now, just because the email isn’t a scam, doesn’t mean there isn’t a Colorado Periodic Report scam out there. Basically, the way it works is they scrape the mailing address from the Secretary of State database and then send you an official looking notice about filing your Periodic Report. It seems very legitimate, and if you do some research, you’ll see it’s a real thing.
The scam is that they offer to do it for you for a high fee, like $49 or $99 or worse. Don’t do it. Do it yourself online. It costs $10. It literally takes two minutes and all it does is ask for your address.
What Happens If I Don’t File a Periodic Report?
What happens if you don’t file a Periodic Report in the State of Colorado?
I’m actually not sure. I think if something happened and you got sued, or someone tried to take your business name, something might happen. Otherwise, no Colorado Periodic Report Officers kick down your door or anything.
What I do know for sure, is that if you don’t file every year, and then you want to get it fixed, you have to pay for all the years you skipped. That part of this post at the beginning about not doing it wasn’t a clever story, it really happened. I had to pay $90 to file mine because I didn’t do it for eight years. (Eight years of back fees, and the $10 for the current year.)
So, make it easy on yourself and go file your Periodic Report when you get the email. Five minutes of time, and $10 keeps you legit.