Thursday, March 1, 2012, AM | Leave Comment
Recently, I received a letter from National Deed Service Inc., in US Postal Service mail. The name has National word in it so I thought, probably, it was an official letter from the state where I live in. I usually get mail in the evening, our neighborhood being the last leg on the route. The letter had a warning:
The U.S. Government Federal Citizen Information Center website recommends that property owners should have an official or certified copy of their deed. This document provides evidence that your property was transferred to you.
The letter then offered to provide a copy of the document for $79.95.
I was overseas when my wife bought the house almost five years ago. So I asked her if we had the deed. She didn’t remember so we checked our house papers and there it was.
My wife and I thought, maybe we needed another copy, or perhaps something had changed. So I called the town clerk, who said, “This is wrong. I can get you a certified deed for $5.”
Letters like ours and perhaps phone calls to consumers have prompted official warnings about National Deed Service and similar companies. These outfits pull homeowners’ names and addresses from public records of real estate transactions and send them letters offering deed copies from $59.95 to $89.95.
These private companies are charging homeowners – many of them senior citizens – more than 500% markup for deed copies that most city and town halls charge as low as $2.
All these companies do is contact the respective town halls for these deed copies – just as any resident could do.
While the pitch that these companies do may not be entirely illegal, it is a clever attempt to exploit consumers. We have to be careful how we handle it.
Several chapters of the Better Business Bureau have given unsatisfactory ratings to National Deed Service because of unanswered complaints about its practices.
Don’t let these letters fool you. As a property owner, you should have received a deed soon after the property closing. If not, or if you want another copy, contact your town clerk’s office.
One official said…
Certainly it’s not illegal, but I think it smacks of unethical, and I think they’re targeting senior citizens especially.
Deed recorders across the country, along with the Better Business Bureau, are now warning residents about National Deed Service.
In a Nutshell
National Deed Service and similar companies make money on convincing property owners that they must have the copies of their deeds and that the company is the best source of such documents.
Most people have no real need for copies of their deeds. They should take the trouble and get it themselves for a maximum of $5 from their town office if they really need it.
If you have paid the fee that National Deed Service or another company asked you to pay and you believe you have paid more than necessary,
- You can file a complaint with your state attorney general’s office or
- Click on government consumer action website to find local offices.