Scammers always seem to find a way to revive a scam just when you think their tactics have been snuffed out. Unfortunately, this is the situation with the Deed Scam, a fraudulent scheme that has surfaced in various states over the years.
If you are responsible for the well-being of elderly family members residing at home, awareness of the Deed Scam is crucial to ensure that you or your family member don’t accidentally fall victim to this scam.
These are some of the common tactics used in the Deed Scam:
Through the mail, a homeowner will receive an official-looking document titled “Recorded Deed Notice.”
The document, adorned with seemingly legitimate details, tells the homeowner that they are required to have a copy of their deed and a request for payment to receive the official copy of their deed. The details make it look very legitimate, including the legal property address, the property identification number, the land value identification, dates of purchase or transfer, document numbers, property zone descriptions, and a payment slip at the bottom. Recipients are instructed to detach and mail the payment slip along with an $83.00 “Document Fee” (or more) before a specified deadline.
Towards the document’s end, there is a revealing statement: “This is a solicitation; you are under no obligation to pay the amount stated, unless you accept this offer.” This is an immediate giveaway that it’s a scam!
It is truly shocking to learn how surprisingly simple it is to carry out the Deed scam. Deeds and mortgage documentation are public records maintained by each county’s Register of Deeds. Scammers are able to extract the property owners’ names and addresses from these records, and then they send out deceptive notices. Their objective is to persuade unsuspecting homeowners to pay for information they either already possess or do not require.
The History of the Deed Scam
These scams have emerged in different locations over the years. In 2012, the scam involved letters supposedly from the Record Retrieval Department in Nashville, Tennessee, urging homeowners to purchase a copy of their deed. More recent iterations have claimed to be from entities like “Records Transfer Service” in California, a “Local Records Office” in Nashville, and “Secured Documents Services” in Washington, DC.
Close scrutiny of these notices reveals that these organizations lack affiliation, approval, or endorsement from any government agency. However, despite this information, anxious property owners often succumb to sending money due to the document’s deceptive official appearance.
Property deeds are public records, and obtaining a copy is inexpensive. Copies, letter and legal sized, can be procured in some counties for as low as a $1 per page from the Register of Deeds office. There is no justification for paying $80 or more for a document available for less than a quarter.
If you or an elderly family member receives a Deed Scam letter, it is imperative to notify the local law enforcement office promptly. We have included a sample letter in this article for reference.
Explore some of the other common elder scam articles on our website:
- Protect Your Duval County Property Titles from Fraud
- Common Elder Scams & How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
We Serve Guardians as They Serve Their Loved Ones
Our elder law attorneys work closely with families in Jacksonville, Florida who serve as Guardians for elderly loved ones. For help with Guardianship or Guardian Advocacy schedule a consultation with DiFranza Law today.