CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Secretary of State Mac Warner announced a tool to help inform consumers and combat fraud.
The West Virginia Tax Department recently shared 77,000 sole proprietor business names with the Secretary of State’s Office for use in a searchable database. The business names were not publically available until a 2017 change in the law.
“Consumer protection is a top priority of my office,” Morrisey said in a press release. “It is essential that we give consumers an easy path to verify if a business is registered with the Secretary of State. This database will stand as a one-stop location. I applaud our Legislature for changing the law, as well as Secretary Warner for making this accomplishment happen.”
The trade names for sole proprietors will join other businesses registered with the Secretary of State, such as for-profit and non-profit corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and other business associations.
The Secretary of State’s searchable database will now contain nearly 188,000 business entities filed with the office.
Consumers will be able to verify if a business’ registration status with the Secretary of State is compliant, revoked, dissolved or not in existence in West Virginia.
“Prior to this change, finding out information on a business was often complicated and confusing,” Warner said in a press release. “Thanks to a great working relationship with the Legislature and our attorney general, we’re implementing new ways to reduce risks for consumers."
Warner said the best advice they can offer is for consumers to check with the Attorney General’s office and Secretary of State’s and to be aware of the risks to avoid getting scammed.
West Virginia law still permits businesses to operate as a sole proprietorship under the legal name of the owner without registering with the Secretary of State. However, if anyone transacts business in this state under a name other than their own, they must register the trade name with the office.