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Tennant’s office to levy fees for some documents

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office will start charging the public to obtain documents that were previously available free and online.
The new charges take effect Sept. 4, according to a notice at the bottom of business license filings web page.

Once the fees take effect, members of the public who wish to view business and organization license filings will be charged $5 to have the document sent by e-mail and $10 to have the document faxed. For a printed version by mail or pick-up in person, the charge will be $1 for the first page and 50 cents for each page thereafter.

The fee amounts are set by state law, not the office.

Public document filings for businesses and organizations used to be available for the public to view for free in PDF format online. Those filings included things like articles of incorporation, certificates of dissolution, statements of mergers and statements of changes of officers.

Information in those documents can be used to determine the officers of a business or organization and if and when those officers changed. Contact information for business organizers, like telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, is also contained in the documents.

Members of the news media often use the database to contact business owners.

 All information businesses provide to the Secretary of State’s Office is on legal public documents.

In June, however, the office removed all filings after a local insurance agent found her Social Security number had not been scrubbed from a document…

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