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What’s the story behind the invoices from fake registers that you receive after establishing your business?

It happens again and again that companies enter into agreements for an entry in a business directory against their will. If you only glance at the forms and sign them without checking them carefully, you may encounter unpleasant surprises that can cost you money.

How can you tell if it is an official invoice?

  • An official invoice comes from the commercial register office of the canton where your business is registered (e.g. the commercial register office of the canton of Zurich)

  • It states clearly what the invoice is for (e.g. registration of the company and the authorised signatories)

  • You can often tell that it is an official letter thanks to the cantonal coat of arms and the contact details

What do fake invoices normally look like?

  • They may use terms such as “register” and “Switzerland”, but they do not use the name “Cantonal Commercial Register”, as this would make them liable to prosecution

  • In most cases, they are very vague about what you actually get when you pay. You are merely entered in an unknown, unofficial register

  • The letter does not contain any direct contact information, and the recipient is a company rather than the canton

What should I do if I receive a fake invoice like this?

The simplest thing to do is just throw the invoice away and don’t worry any more about it. If you have any doubts about whether it is a genuine invoice, you can always contact the person at Foundera who is supporting your start-up.

If you have already paid the invoice, it will be difficult to get the money back. You can file a complaint with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). You can find all important information from SECO about phoney directories and fake registers, as well as the complaint form, here.

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