Watch Out for Deed Notice Scam Letters
If you get a notice stating that you owe a high service fee for a copy of your deed or property assessment profile, don’t pay it. It’s a scam.
County register of deeds offices across the country have been warning property owners for years not to fall for these deceptive solicitations that look like official notices. So, the scam isn’t new. It just keeps resurfacing in different cities and states.
These letters have come from companies with names such as Property Site, Property Profile and Record Transfer Services, according to notices from several county register of deeds offices. Numerous complaints have been filed against each of these companies with the Better Business Bureau.
To avoid falling prey, here’s what you need to know about deed notice scam letters.
How to spot a deceptive deed letter
The letters typically are labeled in bold as a “Recorded Deed Notice.” They look like a bill because there is a record ID number listed at the top, along with a service fee of up to $95 and a “respond by” date.
According to complaints filed with BBB, the letters often state that homeowners should obtain a copy of their property assessment profile that includes a complimentary copy of their deed or record of title. Details about the property, including address, parcel number and date of purchase or transfer, make it appear official. There might even be a payment slip and envelope to mail a payment.
However, if you read the fine print at the bottom of the letter, there’s typically a disclaimer that it is not a bill from a government agency and there is no obligation to pay unless you want to purchase a property assessment profile.
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What to do if you get a deed scam letter
Be aware that you don’t need to pay a high fee to get a copy of your deed or any of the information that these companies offer with a property assessment profile. You likely can get a non-certified copy of your deed from your county register of deeds office or county clerk’s office for free and a certified copy for just a few dollars.
If you receive a letter like this, report it to your register of deeds and local law enforcement. If you’ve already sent in a payment, contact the company that sent the letter to ask for a refund—especially if you haven’t received the documents you paid for. There’s no guarantee that you will get one, but some consumers who filed complaints against these companies with the BBB reported receiving refunds.
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