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Home  Georgia Business Matters


Is The Other Business Legitimate & Trustworthy?
The sources below can help you identify scam operations from legitimate businesses.  But even legitimate firms are not always trustworthy.  Indeed, some legitimate companies have terrible track records with the public.  

Before doing business with a firm, find out if others have been treated unfairly or have filed complaints against it.  Note that big firms are apt to receive more complaints than small firms, especially if they've been in business a long time or deal with a huge volume of customers.  

If a company has received several complaints, look into their nature as well as their number.  Then ask whether such is unusual given the organization's size and years in the business.

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Check List Of Things To Watch Out For
a. Individuals or organizations that have received an unusual number of complaints against them. (Call your local BBB and the BBB where the company is located).

b. Small companies that have been sued often for breach of contract, misrepresentation or fraud. (Call the state and superior courts in the surrounding counties).

c. Firms or individuals that have been disciplined by their  licensing boards or the government. (Contact applicable licensing agencies and your Secretary of State).

d. Firms ending in "Co.", Inc. or "Corp." that haven't registered or qualified with the Secretary of State and Business Licensing Division.  

You'll want to check both agencies before jumping to conclusions.  Mistakes do happen. For instance, the Secretary of State may sometimes forget to add the corporate listing, but such can still be found with Business Licensing Division.

e. Any business, partnership or sole proprietorship not registered with the Business Licensing Division.  All businesses, whether incorporated or unincorporated, must register in the county in which business is transacted.

f. Firms that are unlicensed or seriously late in paying incorporation fees, business license dues or other fees required by law. (Ask this information from each of the agencies above).

See Find Or Background A Business (Consumer-SOS)

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Checking Up On Firms In Metro Atlanta

1. Call (404) 688-4910
The BBB has records of complaints against businesses that go back for at least three years.  But do not assume a firm is trustworthy merely because the BBB has no record of complaints against it.  The BBB does not have records of start up outfits, businesses new to Atlanta or firms that never do business in Atlanta.  The BBB also does not keep records of complaints over three years old.  For information on non-local businesses, or established businesses new to Atlanta, call the BBB office where the firm has done business in the past. This information may be found with the Secretary of State or Business Licensing Division.

2. Call The Business Tax Division where the firm does business.              

     Each and every firm (includes out of state companies, sole proprietorships & partnerships) must have a business  license if it does business in Atlanta.  Find out where the  business is located and then check that county's Business Licensing Division.

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Fulton County    (404) 730-7720

City Of Atlanta  (404) 330-6213

Dekalb County   (404) 371-2461

Cobb County     (770) 528-8410

Gwinnett County (770) 822-7800

  If the Business License Division does not list the firm as licensed to do business, consider the following before assuming the worst:

a. The company may be very new and not yet in their records.

b. The firm may be legitimately doing business under another name.  If the firm is a corporation call The Secretary Of State Corporations Division  (404) 656-2817 to find out the other name and then do another search.

c. The firm may have recently moved to another county.  

d. Check all major counties before assuming something is fishy.  Not all businesses are licensed where you'd expect to find them. Fulton businesses have been licensed in Dekalb, while Dekalb businesses have been licensed in Cobb...etc.    

3. Call the GA Secretary of State (404) 656-2817

   If the firm name ends in "Co.", "Inc." or "Corp." it must be registered with the Secretary of State.  All corporations  doing business in Georgia are required to list themselves with this agency.  Out of state companies including those incorporated in other states are not exempt. 

4. Call The Tax Commissioner or Property Tax Division in the county where the property is located.  Does the address really correspond to property and if so who owns that property?  If the property is owned by a corporation, see if  there's a name, address and phone number for its owner, agent or CEO. In Georgia, they don't list phone numbers but you can get such through the phone book or the Internet. Call them and see if the number checks out.  

5. CONFIRM THAT THE PERSON OR FIRM IS IN GOOD STANDING WITH THEIR LICENSING BOARD.  A licensing board establishes the skill level and ethical standards required by the profession.  In Georgia, pharmacists, used car dealers and even barbers have licensing boards that can tell you if a member has been disciplined or reprimanded for improper conduct.  For more information, call the GA Secretary of State or see Occupational & Professional Licensing Boards

 6. CALL The State And Superior Courts' County Clerk's Office in each county to find out if that company has been sued for Bad dealings. 

The County Clerk can look up if the company was ever sued in that county and may even be able to tell you what they were sued for.  Records about when and why a company was sued are completely open to the public, which means anyone can go to the courthouse and look at them.  Some counties such as Fulton, may reveal this information over the phone.  But keep in mind that you should contact both state and superior courts in each county.  Otherwise you'll never know if the company was sued elsewhere.  For example, a lawsuit against company x filed in Fulton County will not show up in Dekalb County's records and vice versa.  Likewise, lawsuits filed in superior court will not show up in state court records and vice versa.



Fulton County State Court         (404) 730-5001

Fulton County Superior Court     (404) 730-6872

Fulton County Magistrate Court  (404) 730-5045

Dekalb County State Court        (404) 371-2261

Dekalb County Superior Court    (404) 371-2836

Cobb County State Court           (770) 528-1219

Cobb County Superior Court       (770) 528-1300

Gwinnett County State Court     (770) 822-8120

Gwinnett County Superior Court (770) 822-8100

For Small Claims Courts Addresses & Phone #'s Click Here

See Find Or Background A Business (Consumer-SOS)

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