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Beware of Deed Scams

By Christina T. Vidoli

Homeowners beware: Some unscrupulous companies are trying to get owners to pony up for a copy of their deed, but it’s a scam.

Recently, several clients have contacted us to inquire about a notice they received in the mail that resembles an invoice from a company with the name “Record Transfer Service” of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  The notice instructs them to send $83 to the company in exchange for a copy of their deed.  Each of the clients who have reported receiving this notice had recently made a change to the title of real estate, all of which is public information. Many people mistakenly believe they are required to pay the fee to get a copy of their deed and willingly send the money.  And as long as you receive the documents you’ve paid for, there’s nothing illegal about it.  By law, the companies are required to include a disclaimer on the notices, but many people overlook it and wind up becoming victims of this scam.  You can get this document yourself—for 50 cents per page if you go to the Registry of Deeds in the county where your property is located, $1.00 per page if you mail in a request, and some counties allow you to print a copy for free from the Registry’s website.

To save yourself some money, be sure to carefully review all bills or solicitations you receive. And if you question the legitimacy of a bill you receive, contact the company that sent it and clear up any questions before you send in a payment.

If you receive this notice or a similar notice, and feel that something is illegal or misleading, we recommend you file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s office.  You can do so by going to the Attorney General’s website.

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