Deed Scam … Solicitation

Most of us do it every day after we visit the mailbox.

“Junk mail, junk mail, junk mail, wait … what is this?”

This is the response that Record Transfer Services and Local Records Office are looking for. These companies recently sent solicitations to my client after helping with her estate plan. Her plan included preparing a new deed for her home so it would pass to a beneficiary upon her death. The solicitations purport to provide you with a copy of your deed and a property profile for $83 and $89. My client wisely called me to confirm her strong suspicion that these offers were indeed junk mail.

Although both notices contain disclaimers that deeds are available at the local recorder’s office, the timing causes people to second guess the legitimacy of the offer. The timing usually coincides with a real estate closing or a deed update as part of the estate planning process. Both solicitations are personalized by including your property address, tax parcel identification number, the year your property was built, and square footage. The solicitation from Record Transfer Services even lists how many bedrooms and bathrooms you have.

There is no reason to pay these companies to provide a copy of your deed. Property deeds are kept on file at the register of deeds office for the county where your property is located. The closing company involved in the purchase or sale of your home usually handles the filing of your deed. If you are working with an attorney on an estate plan, that attorney will usually make sure the deed is recorded or advise you otherwise. If you didn’t get a copy of your deed at closing or from your attorney, you can purchase a copy of your deed from the local office, and in some counties order it online for a very low cost. You should never pay anyone such a high cost to get a copy of your deed.

These companies want to make sure you get your $83 or $89 worth so the solicitations also offer a property profile. The property profile contains county tax and assessment information, assessed value, total tax amount, and tax delinquency status. This information does not justify such a high cost. The information in this profile is already delivered to taxpayers regularly, and is otherwise available from the local taxing authority or county office upon request. Also, many counties provide this information online for free or minimal cost.

Whether these notices are a solicitation or a scam, be sure to file notices from Record Transfer Services and Local Records Office in the junk mail category.

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