As part of my stand against a serial cyber-harasser, I’ve been warning individuals and companies that she targets. Her pattern, when it comes to companies, is to claim that her searches for business registrations came up blank. She claims that this is proof that these companies are not licensed and, therefore, frauds. These aren’t tiny companies, either, but some pretty big, even international, companies.
Her method appeared, to me, to be fatally flawed. She was relying on the Better Business Bureau’s search tool. The problem here is two-fold. First of all, businesses don’t need to register with the BBB. It’s voluntary. Secondly, it isn’t a business license search. It’s a business *review* search tool. You can use this to find out if a business had complaints filed against it to the BBB, but you can’t use it to find every licensed business in the US.
As she claimed to be unable to find these registrations, I began to wonder. Could I? I pride myself on my Google-Fu and wondered just how long it would take me to find an organization’s business registration. Once I was consistently able to find them, I figured I’d blog about my method.
For our examples, let’s take a few of the supposedly unregistered businesses: MomSelect, Bendon Publishing, and PictureIt Creations. (I picked these at semi-random. She’s targeted many more businesses than this.)
First, we need to visit the sites and find out in which state they are located. Bendon’s Contact Us page mentions Ohio, PictureIt Creations’ contact number is in a 734 area code which is in Michigan. MomSelect is a bit more complex as their web page mentions that they are part of BSM Media Inc. Therefore, we should really look up BSM and not MomSelect. BSM’s contact page lists Florida as their state.
Now that we have our states, we need to find each state’s business registration search website. Luckily, I found a website called SecStates.com that listed all of the appropriate pages. Some of them were outdated, though, so I tracked down the updated links and tested all of them. Here’s the list:
Now that we have the list, we just need to go to each state’s website to search for the businesses. Let’s start with Bendon Publishing. Searching gives two results: one (filed in 2001) that was canceled and a second (filed in 2003) that is active. By the way, Bendon is listed as a “Foreign Corporation”. At first, I thought this meant that they were based outside of the US. However, all this means is that they are registered outside of Ohio. (In this case, Delaware.)
Easy, right? Let’s try PictureIt Creations now. Searching Michigan’s database gives us this registration. Ok, so we’re two for two now. What about MomSelect / BSM Media? Searching for “BSM Media” gives this result. Three for three.
You can use this to find nearly any registered business in the United States. Go ahead and give it a try.