By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – A small business owner wants to warn others again about a notice in the mail that could mislead or confuse some into thinking they need to spend money to pay a third party in order to complete a required task by the Colorado state government.

business 1 People Get Suckered: Small Business Owner Warns Other Coloradans About Confusing Letter

Eric Meer (credit: CBS)

“It’s infuriating that we pay the secretary of state’s office to sell our information to companies that try and predate us,” said Eric Meer, a small business owner.

The Secretary of State gets annual verification from companies in Colorado and compiles that information into a registry. Meer noticed back in 2013 that the same information was used to let a company send him a notice asking for money.

“I think what really struck me first was how official they tried to make it look,” he said. “It had more of a ‘you better do this or else feeling.'”

He says he saw a similar notice again two years ago and then this fall. The latest version is not as aggressive but still suggests a business owner needs to pay a third party company to take care of the filing, when anyone can do it on their own. It is a fee of $10 but Workplace Compliance Services adds a $75 charge to complete the transaction. The website and their recorded phone message explains they are a private company and that you are not required to complete the paperwork through their service.

“It bothered me that they were trying to sneak it by people, I know it’s not illegal,” said Meer. “I’m surprised it keeps working, in this day information, I surprised people get suckered by this.”

business 2 People Get Suckered: Small Business Owner Warns Other Coloradans About Confusing Letter

CBS4’s Shawn Chitnis interviews Meer. (credit: CBS)

The Secretary of State’s office told CBS4 the registry is for all businesses that file with the agency and a list is produced that can be sold to anyone. The office collects name, principle office address, and other details for the database. The information compiled is also searchable by the public as a free service. Businesses are notified that the information is public.

“Every place you go to that has your information goes out of your way to protect your privacy,” said Meer.

The small business owner says it is unusual to see the information made so easily available when others do so much to keep that data private. He hopes enough businesses will get the word out to make sure more people don’t pay the unnecessary expense. Meer also wants to see other business owners lobby state leaders.

“I would like to see businesses reach out to the secretary of state’s office with emails and phone calls to stay stop doing this or at least give us an option to opt out,” he said.

RELATED: Sales Of Public Data To Marketers Can Mean Big $$ For Governments

SOS Lists:

https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/info_center/fees/business.html

Company website:

https://www.workplacecomplianceannualreport.com/optin

Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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