Don't fall for official-looking letter demanding $300

Don't fall for official-looking letter demanding $300
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- A letter demanding $300 is making the rounds in the Tri-Cities. When we posted a picture on our Facebook, many of you said you'd received it. It comes with a very official looking letterhead and it's a real business.

Who wouldn't take the letter seriously? It screams, "Final Notice," and comes paired with a pre-printed pay stub for $295. The letter says it's from the 'Labor Standards Compliance Office.' They were sent to businesses and even non-profits around the area.

"It looks legitimate, it's obviously not after looking at it closely but it looks legitimate," said Patty Armstrong, Associate Pastor of Story Point Community Church in Kennewick. "Once I looked at the paper, and there was no telephone number to contact, I decided to Google it, and sure enough, I did find some info on this 'Labor Standards Compliance Office', however, it was an article from the Seattle PI saying it was a scam."

Armstrong's church is small with not a lot of money. She says $295 would take away from a lot of community outreach they do.

"My pastor read through the letter and it says we owe 295 dollars cause we don't have the minimum wage posters and all that hung up and if we don't pay soon, it will be a $17,000 fine, well you start hearing 17,000 and that hits a panic button," said Armstrong.

The letters suggest companies need to buy labor law posters to hang on their property in order to comply with the law. But the state says you don't need to buy them at all. Businesses can get them for free.

Porter & Company PC is another company that had the letter mailed to them, too. Accountant Chris Porter says he knew it looked fake.

"It's a company trying to make a profit, not a government agency," said Porter.

It's not illegal to make a buck off someone else's ignorance. But the California Labor Commissioner calls it a scam. They think the label applies because the company is trying to trick you into buying their product. In this case, let the buyer beware.

The state wants business owners and non-profits to be aware the posters are free. Just contact the Department of Labor and Industries to receive them. No $300 required.