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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Idaho AG requires Mich. company to pay civil penalties over ad misrepresentations

By Bryan Cohen | Jun 4, 2013


BOISE, Idaho (Legal Newsline) - Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced Monday that a Saginaw, Mich., company has paid a $15,000 civil penalty to resolve Idaho Consumer Protection Act violations.

Corporate Records Service allegedly violated the act through direct-mail ads sent to Idaho businesses that carried an official-liking form asking businesses to identify their shareholders, directors and officers.

Corporate Records Services alleged that it would prepare corporate minutes for businesses in state for $126. Businesses that returned the form and paid the $125, however, received only a blank notebook in return.

More than 14,5000 Idaho businesses received Corporate Records Service's solicitation, which arrived in an enveloped marked "IMPORTANT: ANNUAL MINUTES REQUIREMENT STATEMENT."

Idaho businesses sent complaints to Wasden that the form appeared to come from the government and that it was their belief that they were required to complete it and return the $125 payment.

"Consumers are being bombarded with bulk mail ads disguised as government or official forms," Wasden said. "Idaho law prohibits using any words, symbols, identification numbers, or other markings that may cause a reasonable consumer to believe an advertiser is associated with the government."

Under the terms of the agreement, Corporate Records Service is prohibited from using certain words and symbols in its adds to appear official and must disclose all material terms and conditions related to an advertised offer. It also cannot include inaccurate statutes or regulations, random identification numbers with no purpose or artificial deadlines in its offers.

The company also paid a $15,000 civil penalty and $1,500 to reimburse Wasden for fees and costs incurred.

Corporate Records Service, doing business as The Mandatory Poster Agency Inc., previously sold goods and services in Idaho as The Idaho Food Compliance Center. Wasden obtained refunds for Idaho businesses and recovered more than $10,000 in costs in 2007 after looking into the company's misrepresentations that all Idaho food establishments were required to purchase "approved hand-washing" posters to comply with new Idaho food codes. No new food statutes were instituted regarding hand-washing posters.

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