Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Attorney Warns Homeowners: Beware of Deed “Scam”

OVID, NEW YORK--Attorney Steven Getman is warning homeowners not to fall for mail solicitations offering certified copies of property deeds.

The mailings, Getman said, typically include proper names, addresses and accurate dates for when the property owners’ deed was filed. It also calls the document an important one to have on hand.

The notice then offers to provide the homeowner with certified copies for approximately $60.00 to $70.00. The fee, the letter states, includes postage and handling, location and retrieval of the data.

At best, Getman said, the offer is a grossly overpriced service.

“Your local county clerk's office provides certified copies of deeds for substantially less,” Getman said. “Usually they charge about sixty-five cents a page for the deed, which is typically a four or five page document, plus a $5.00 certification fee.”

In addition, Getman explained, may counties will allow residents to view their deeds on the county’s computer system at no cost.

According to Getman, a new law took effect in October that requires that these solicitations include that fact that customers can obtain a certified copy of their deed from their county clerk for less than $20.00. This law, Getman said, is in response to concerns raised last year when many New York State residents received these notices in the mail.

“A given offer may or may not be illegal, but it’s so unfair to charge that much more for something that you can get at your local county clerk’s office,” Getman noted.

Getman urged anyone who receives a solicitation of this nature to contact their local county clerk or an independent attorney of their own choosing to review their legal rights.