Columbus, Ohio –June 24, 2013 - Homeowners nationwide are receiving letters asking them to pay upwards of $89 to obtain a certified copy of their property deed. What the mailings don't mention is that deeds are available from the county for a few dollars or less.
How the Scam Works:
You receive a letter in the mail in an official-looking "open immediately" envelope from a company called "Local Records Office" and appears to be a bill from a federal agency. The letter asks for $89 by a certain date – and threatens a $35 fee for late payments.
The letter is misleading. Deeds really only cost a few dollars, so the scammers are making a hefty profit.
As with most scams, the letters take several forms and the exact name, amounts and wording used change over time.
Some versions of the letters look like a bill. Others warn that an additional $35 will be tacked on to a base charge if you don't order by a set date. However, the mailing always uses an official sounding business name, including National Deed Service, Secured Document Company and Conveyance Transfer Services. These three all have a Washington DC return address and a toll-free number.
How Can I Get a Copy of My Deed?
If you are thinking about selling or refinancing your home, you will need a copy of your deed. But you don't need to pay scammers for one.
Where to get a new one: Call or check the website of the county clerk's office, where deeds are usually recorded.
What you need to get it: The street address of the property. There is no fee if you request the title yourself, but there may be a small charge for copying and certification.
How long it takes: The process takes about 10 business days in most cases.
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