Checking Business Backgrounds
Unfortunately, there is no one-stop shop for checking out companies, and our office cannot give you personal legal advice or comment on the legitimacy of a particular business. By researching a company, you may be able to detect whether the business is legitimate and help ensure that you invest wisely your hard-earned money. If you have any doubts about a company's business practices, here is some general advice to consider:
- Ask for a list of references. The list should include companies from which the company buys materials, as well as distributors or customers to whom the company sells products or services.
- Ask for a business statement. A business statement should describe the daily practices of the company. It should provide general information on the company, such as the number of years in business, its locations, the owners and a description of its organizational structure.
- Ask about licenses and compliance with applicable state and local requirements. Find out what licenses the company must possess and who to contact to verify that the licenses have been obtained. Find out what actions the company has taken to ensure that all its actions are legal within the State of California.
- Ask about a stock portfolio or income statement. If you are thinking about investing in a company, ask for a stock portfolio or income statement. These documents will provide the investor with information on the company's assets and liabilities. If the firm is publicly traded, check the company's website for financial statements and other regulatory filings. Conduct an Internet search for as much information as you can learn about the company's performance and conduct, and what others are saying about the company.
- Check complaints about the company. As a law enforcement agency, the Attorney General's Office does not release information on consumer complaints that involve as-yet-unproven allegations that could create misleading and unfair impressions about a company. Our Consumer Law Section uses these consumer complaints to look for patterns of deceptive or unfair business practices where legal action brought by the Attorney General could serve the interest of the general public. While information from our office is limited, you may able to learn about consumer complaints about the company by contacting the Better Business Bureau where the company is located or doing business. See www.bbb.org.