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Don't be scammed into paying for a copy of your property deed

Consumer Reports News: May 20, 2013 10:08 AM

If you're a homeowner, don't be bamboozled into paying big bucks for a copy of your property deed. Scammers have been sending solicitations from companies using official-sounding names, such as "Record Retrieval Department" and "National Deed Service," asking in some cases for more than $100 to provide homeowners with copies of their deed, attorneys general in several states have warned.

The solicitations falsely claim that government agencies advise homeowners that they should have an official or certified copy of their deed. Even if you need a copy of yours, it's usually available from your county or other property office at little or no cost.

In March, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell announced that he had
reached a settlement with a California man, who he accused of collecting about $2,500 from 29 Vermont homeowners in connection with property-deed sales, in some case sending documents that appeared to be invoices. Sorrell said the solicitations falsely claimed that the company, using the name Record Retrieval Department, was located in Vermont. To settle allegations that he sent deceptive solicitations, the man agreed to provide refunds, pay a $7,500 civil penalty, and be permanently barred from doing business in the state.

In April, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced that he had filed a lawsuit against a company in that state that he said was "using government-like mailings to offer copies of property deeds for exorbitant fees."

If you receive such a solicitation, don't respond. Instead, report it to your state attorney general or consumer protection office.

Anthony Giorgianni

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