Deed Scam Resurfaces

If you’re looking after elderly loved ones who still live at home, you need to know about the Deed Scam, which has been reported in a number of states over the years.

It works like this:

The homeowner receives an official-looking document in the mail. The document is titled “Recorded Deed Notice.” It looks scarily official, with purchase or transfer dates, document numbers, land value identification, the legal property address, a description of the property zones, and the property identification number.

There’s a payment slip at the bottom. The recipient is directed to detach and mail the payment slip with a "Document Fee" of $83.00 by a deadline.

If you make it to the end of the document, you’ll find a statement that goes something like this: "This is a solicitation; you are under no obligation to pay the amount stated, unless you accept this offer."

That’s the tip-off. This is a scam!

How can this happen? It’s really quite easy. Documentation of deeds and mortgages are public records that every county Register of Deeds must maintain. Scammers copy property owners’ names and addresses from these records, and then send the notices. Their goal is to get unsuspecting homeowners to pay for information that they already have or don’t even need.

These scams have originated in different cities over the years. When this scam surfaced in 2012, the letters were sent from the Record Retrieval Department in Nashville, Tennessee where the mailer suggested homeowners should purchase a copy of their deed. More recent mailings have come from a “Records Transfer Service” in California, a “Local Records Office” in Nashville and “Secured Documents Services” in Washington, DC.

Read the fine print on these notices and you’ll see that these organizations are not affiliated, approved or endorsed by any government agency. But that information doesn’t stop nervous property owners from sending money because the document looks so official.

Property deeds are a matter of public record and you can get a copy of yours for next to nothing. Letter or legal-sized copies of deeds are available for around 25 cents per copy from your local county Register of Deeds office. You should never, ever have to pay $80 or more for a document that you can get for less than a quarter.

If you or an elderly loved one get a Deed Scam letter, notify your local law enforcement office.

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