UCC watchlist launched to curb fraudulent business filings

COLUMBUS – A Uniform Commercial Code Watchlist, the latest in an ongoing effort to improve the services offered by the Secretary of State’s office and protect Ohioans from potential fraudulent filings, was launched last week.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced the launch of the UCC effort, which is expected to curb instances when fraudulent UCC filings are submitted by disgruntled customers or individuals. These types of filings can negatively impact a person’s resources to resolve in court. Fraudulent filings can also mischaracterize good-standing companies, putting their assets at risk and pulling their focus and energy away from growing their business.

“We have worked very hard in recent years to bring more accountability and efficiency to the services we provide for Ohio’s businesses,” Husted said. “The Watchlist has the potential to put Ohio a step ahead in serving its businesses and curbing fraudulent activity.”

UCC statements are notices filed by creditors to declare an interest in the personal property of debtors. In Ohio, the notices are uploaded to the Secretary of State’s website and may be active for a period of five years or longer. Nearly 100 percent of UCC statements are now filed online – improving overall efficiency and reducing the likelihood of avoidable errors.

The UCC Watchlist will allow individuals and businesses to track debtor names on approved UCC financing statements maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office. Users will receive an e-mail alert whenever a new statement containing a debtor’s name has been filed. The UCC Watchlist service allows users to customize their search queries to monitor individual and organization debtor names. The UCC Watchlist is a feature of the new UCC filing system released in July 2017. The system has improved the customer’s experience when filing UCC statements in Ohio. With the implementation of this system all UCC statements can be filed online and certified search results are now available for immediate download. The Ohio Secretary of State has implemented a series of business-friendly reforms prior to the UCC Watchlist.

Ohio Business Central was launched in 2013, allowing businesses to submit business filings over the internet. In August 2017, Husted announced that 100 percent of all filings needed to start or maintain a business in Ohio can be done online. As of January 2018, more than 340,000 filings have been processed online.

In September 2015, Husted reduced the cost of starting and maintaining a business in the Buckeye State by 21 percent. To date, this change has saved Ohio businesses more than $5.8 million.

Most notable is that as all of these reforms have been implemented, Husted has eliminated the need for any tax dollars to run his office. This move is saving taxpayers nearly $5 million in the past two years of his administration. Husted was able to do this because of his financial stewardship. During his first term, he reduced spending by $14.5 million, a 16 percent reduction when compared to the previous administration. Husted is also operating his office with roughly 40 percent fewer staff, and payroll costs are at the lowest level in 10 years.

The UCC Filing Portal can be accessed online by visiting Ohio Business Central.