If you are trying to find out if a business is legitimate, it is important to check their business license records. In most states, business licenses are issued by the Secretary of State, but in others it may be the Department of Revenue, the Department of Corporations, or the Department of Commerce. Some states also maintain business records at the county and city level. There are also different types of businesses, including sole proprietorships, limited partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies. Business licenses are a matter of public record and can often be accessed for free online.
For example, in Hawaii, the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs offers a number of online resources, including a business name search. This search can be used to determine when a business was established, the names of the people involved in the business, and any previous names of the business. The names gathered from this search can be used in the business and licensee complaint history search. This site allows you to check if a business or individual has had complaints filed against them and the outcome of those complaints. Additionally, Hawaii also has a general excise tax license search which allows you to check on whether a business or individual has a general excise tax license.
When conducting your search, be sure you are searching under the correct name of the business, since it may be operating under a fictitious business name, assumed name, trade name, or DBA. Additionally, you may also want to research professional licensing boards, UCC filings, liens, judgments, and permit records. Trying to find all of this information can be a time consuming and cumbersome process. However, the Free Public Records Directory provides links and resources to all of these public records for every state in the country.