Homeowners Tricked into Overpaying for Their Deed

January 07, 2013
Homeowners nationwide are receiving letters asking them to pay upwards of $80 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. It warns that you should have a certified copy of the deed to your house or condo. Getting a copy is easy; just pay the business $80 or more, and they will mail you one.

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.

View a sample scam letter posted by the Missouri Attorney General.

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.

For More Information

For more advice, check out cleveland.bbb.org for more home improvement tips.

To find out more about scams, check out the new BBB Scam Stopper.