MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Just like repairing your credit, only you can secure a business license for yourself or your business. Don't believe anyone who's offering a service to do that for you -- or who may claim they can bypass normal channels to score your business credentials.
The Federal Trade Commission warned there are scam artists who will trick consumers with promises of business license services. Some will solicit consumers by mail, text or email, claiming to be the very agencies who produce and enforce those licenses. Your county, municipal or state agency which regulates licensing will never initiate contact with you to sell a license. That will always have to start with you.
The FTC said these are the steps you should take to obtain a business or professional license:
* CHECK WITH YOUR STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT FIRST. In Shelby County, for example, the Shelby County Clerk's Office issues and enforces county business licenses. Tennessee's Department of Commerce & Insurance regulates licenses for specific industries (contractors, barbers, cosmeticians, auto dealerships, etc.). The requirements and fees depend on the type of business you're starting, where it will be, what services you plan to offer and government regulations.
* CHECK OUT COMPANIES CLAIMING TO ISSUE PROFESSIONAL OR BUSINESS LICENSES. Contact the state or local agency that oversees licensing for your trade to see if the soliciting company is authorized by that agency to solicit consumers. You can also check the company's history with the Better Business Bureau or simply Google the company's name along with the word "scam."
* CHECK WITH THE U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION'S WEBSITE. You'll find information on licensing and starting a small business.