Beware 'Official' Letters Offering Certified Copy of Deed

By Marshall Loeb
Saturday, February 17, 2007

NEW YORK -- Every once in a while, another scam starts making the rounds, duping good-hearted folks who think they're either getting a deal or doing something important to protect themselves and their finances.

The recent property-deed scam is one such example.

A property deed is an important document that notes the transfers of ownership in real estate. You should store your deed in a safe place with other important papers.

But if you get an "official" letter in the mail telling you how important it is to have a certified copy of your property deed, beware. Chances are it's a scam to get you to buy an unnecessary service that will get you a copy of your deed for a hefty fee. According to Consumer Reports, such letters look official, with companies invoking high-pressure sales tactics to convince you to buy their services for $80 to $100.

But you probably already have a copy of your deed from your closing. And if you don't, it's not hard to get a certified copy yourself. All you have to do is contact your county clerk or registrar's office. You can usually get a certified copy of your deed for less than $10, either by walking into the office or mailing a request. It varies by county, so check with the appropriate office. In some places, you can look at and print a noncertified copy of your deed from the Internet free.

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