Rulli Introduces Bill to Help Protect Businesses from Fraud, Scams

COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Sen. Michael Rulli of Salem has introduced Senate Bill 98 to help protect Ohio businesses from fraud, theft and scams. 

Rulli, R-33rd, was joined at a press conference Tuesday by Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Stivers, who support the bill.

“We’ve identified three areas of major concern that are causing great harm to entrepreneurs trying to run a legitimate business,” Rulli said. “We believe these simple but sensible reforms will provide highly effective solutions to problems we simply can’t let get out of hand. These reforms will further help Ohioans unleash their tremendous potential to succeed, realize the American Dream and make our great state even greater.”

The three areas of concern are business identity theft, fraudulent business filings and deceptive mailings that trick entrepreneurs.

Business Identity Theft

One out of every 10 people is a victim of identity theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and identity thieves are increasingly targeting businesses.

SB 98 would reduce the cost and time for victims to get resolutions. It would allow individuals and businesses to report when a scammer has fraudulently used someone else’s address or personal information to form a new business, or has taken over a legitimate business filing in an attempt to leverage it for fraud. The complaint would be referred to the Ohio attorney general for investigation. If the attorney general determines the business filing is fraudulent, then the secretary of state may cancel the fraudulent filing and redact the victim’s information. 

Fraudulent Business Filings

Scammers are stealing other people’s personal information to form fraudulent new businesses. The fraudulent filings often use a P.O. Box or commercial mailbox, such as a UPS store, as their mailing address.

SB 98 would establish a requirement to use the mailing address of the agent’s primary residence in Ohio or usual place of business. That would allow process servers to physically serve documents to a registered agent. The bill would also reduce the ability to reinstate a canceled business entity without proper authority.

Deceptive Mailings

Another scam targets businesses with misleading mailers imitating official government departments. They charge large amounts of money for government services that are usually provided free or at a low cost. The mailers include official-looking seals, look similar to government forms and imply a company may be in jeopardy if it fails to comply. Common solicitations include expedited filings, UCC statement request forms, annual reports, certificates of good standing and employee identification numbers.

SB 98 would require information on solicitations sent to business owners to make it clear they are not coming from a government agency. Violating the section would be a violation of deceptive trade practices.

Pictured at top: State Sen. Michael Rulli, left, and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. (Office of state Sen. Michael Rulli)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.