Attorney General Brings Enforcement Action Against Michigan Company For Unfair Or Deceptive Business Practices
released on February 10, 2017
found in newsletter: February 2017
Attorney General Joseph Foster announced today his office has reached a consent judgment with Mandatory Poster Agency (MPA), a Lansing, Michigan corporation, arising from a complaint filed on January 31, 2017 which alleged unfair and deceptive practices. MPA sent out a mass solicitation to New Hampshire businesses under the assumed name of Corporate Records Service offering to provide annual corporate minutes for a fee of $125. The mailing was designed to deceive businesses into concluding they came from a state agency. Rather than disclosing their actual business address, MPA only used an address of 75 South Main St., Unit 7 #502, Concord, NH.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau investigated a large number of complaints filed with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State and discovered that the Concord address was a UPS drop-box. State law requires that these type of solicitations disclose an address where business is actually being conducted; as well as a phone number for consumers to contact the company. Violations of that statute – RSA 361-B:2-a – are unfair or deceptive acts under the state’s Consumer Protection Act. The Consumer Protection Act, RSA 358-A, prohibits any unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of trade or commerce within this state.
The Attorney General and the Secretary of State issued a consumer alert about these solicitations in February, 2013. At that time, the alert warned consumers that this company was providing a service of questionable value and was attempting to create the false impression that the solicitation came from an official governmental entity. The alert further warned that the timing of the solicitation appeared designed to coincide with the due date of required annual return filings of business entities with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Mandatory Poster, Inc. agreed to resolve the Attorney General’s complaint with a consent judgment that was approved by the Merrimack County Superior Court. Under the terms of the consent judgment, MPA, which has not been doing business in New Hampshire during the investigation, is prohibited from doing business in the state for an additional year and must comply with the following injunctive terms:
future mailings must disclose a phone number and address of MPA’s actual place of business in Michigan;
MPA must submit future solicitations in advance of being sent out to the Attorney General’s office to assure compliance with the law and terms of the consent judgment; and,
MPA solicitations must contain clear disclosures that MPA is not a government agency and does not contract with the state in any way.
As a result of this investigation, MPA refunded all New Hampshire businesses who bought this product a total of $12,625. Under the terms of the consent judgment, MPA must pay the state $80,000 in civil penalties and investigation costs.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau staffs a consumer hotline at 1-888-468-4454. Consumers can also file a complaint with the Bureau. The complaint form is available online at http://doj.nh.gov/consumer/complaints/index.htm.
Original Press Release