Beware the scammers

So you decided to set up an individual business or a company in Kraków. You may have done it yourself, or maybe you’ve got some help from a lawyer or an accountant. Anyway, you either heard or was told that an individual business registration is free of charge and for a company you pay 350 or 600 zlotys.

And now you get this strange letter in the post saying that you must pay several hundred zlotys to some organisation or entity that sounds very official. The message has the same legal, bureaucratic, complicated language as any other correspondence with the Polish authorities and may even have the official logo of the Polish white eagle.

It is probably a scam. Somebody is trying to use your fear of authorities and a complicated language to take your money. Most official fees are paid upfront when the documents are filed. Anything that comes later may be the result of you failing to pay that upfront fee in the first place. It cannot happen after your company is already registered*.

How to verify it? If you do not speak Polish, show it to someone that does – preferably an accountant or a lawyer. Even Polish people often let themselves be fooled by those letters. A strange looking version of the Polish coat of arms (white eagle) should be a red flag. You can also check the internet for the name of the institution that sent the letter, however, note that those names are usually very similar to the names of real Polish authorities.

Unfortunately, in Poland, the police do not want to treat those situations seriously. It is because those letters usually include some very complicated caveats and waivers that indicate that the entity is private and payment is not obligatory. For this reason, listing names of scammers are risky as those are supposedly legal businesses (so suggesting that any particular one of them does something illegal could lead to them suing you for defamation).

Similar scams may happen when you register a trademark. In Sweden, several of such scammers have been charged with crimes. In Poland, it is still the entrepreneurs themselves who need to be careful.

*common exception is Polish Civic-Transaction tax that you have to pay yourself when you register the company using the internet registration process. People often forget to pay it, and lack of payment does not block registration. However in case of Spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością, it is only 0,5% of the share capital, so it is a minimal amount, and you would clearly see that those are the tax authorities (Urząd Skarbowy or Naczelnik Urzędu Skarbowego) that are writing to you.

About the Authors:
This blog post is written by Jan Marczyński from our highly recommended legal partnerJWMS