State and county officials everywhere are warning homeowners to watch for a letter in their mailbox that urges them to buy a copy of the deed to their home.
It's the latest in a series of urgent notices sent to homeowners, that many people fall for simply because they look urgent.
Looks Like Something You Need
Tony Barlow is a real estate attorney who knows a thing or two about the documents you need and don’t need when you buy a home.
But he says this document showing up in local mailboxes is so slick, his own daughter fell for it.
"It's a document that says that this company, Local Records Off, will get you a copy of your deed for $89,” Barlow said. “It appears very official, and (my daughter) in fact took them up on their offer."
Barlow said his daughter paid the company for a copy of the deed to her home -- when she could have picked one up at the courthouse for just a copying fee.
But he says the letter, which looks governmental, makes you think you need to pay them for it.
"The implication is that they are the only place that has it," Barlow said.
Not The First Scam Deed Letter
Last year, County Auditor Dusty Rhodes showed WCPO a similar letter offering a deed for your home for $84 – this one was from a company called National Processing Center with a Washington, D.C. address.
"It looks so official that people I’m afraid are sending money into this company and paying money for something they can get for just a nominal amount," Rhodes said.
Rhodes said you don't need a copy of your deed. But if you do, you can get it at the courthouse for $10 or less.
"You don't have to pay $85 to get it," Rhodes said.
Several different companies are offering these deed services, usually with on thing in common: A Washington, D.C. address, making it appear important and mandatory.
"Look how it says 'final notice,' and how they are using an address on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, DC, which, how much more official can you get,” Rhodes said. “The implication is this is coming from the government."
But it's not from the government in any way, and Rhodes and other officials around the country say this is one service you don't need.
The Bottom Line
Anytime you receive a letter that asks you to pay for something, look closely at where it comes from.
Is it a government agency, or some company that looks like a government agency, but is not?
If so, it may be a case of don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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