Most of us have heard of National Deed Service. They are the
outfit that sends very official looking letters to homeowners
offering to provide them with a certified their deed for
around $70. A copy which is available from the county for just a
Recently, David Bloys, founder of
News for Public Officials, sent me a one of the
letters that National Deed Service sends to homeowners.
Our records, obtained from public information, show
that Property Deed Document #XXXXX recorded December 11,
2006 indicates your ownership interest in the property
located at 123 Main St.
At the time you purchased your property, a deed was
prepared that shows the title was transferred to you. This
deed was recorded by the Lubbock County County Clerk.
The U.S. Government
Federal Citizen Information Center website recommends that
property owners should have an official or certified copy
of their deed. If you don't already have this
important document, you may obtain one now. This document
provides evidence that your property was transferred to
To obtain a Certified your Deed, complete the
order form below and return it in the enclosed postage
paid envelope with your payment of
$69.50 which includes
location, retrieval, postage and handling or fill
in the credit card information below and either mail or
fax your order to XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Due to the large number of transactions, this will be
your only notice of our service.
All orders will be handled promptly.
National Deed Service, Inc.
[below this, is a stub to tear
off and mail in with payment.]
The problem I have with this type of service, is that it takes
advantage of the elderly, and those who don't know that they can
get this copy themselves for next to nothing. The other side of
this, as some people see it, is that it is a convenience that may
be worth the fee. However, they don't sell it that way; they don't
let people know how to obtain it themselves for a few dollars and
offer to provide the convenience. Instead they create a
sense of need and hope that people will pay the fee out of a fear
of what could happen if they don't.
Regardless, the scam seems to have caught on with another
company that saw a way to make a fast buck. Florida Record
Retrieval, Inc. is doing the same thing and officials in Florida
have issued warnings.
An excerpt from Sun-Sentinel.com,
Don't be fooled by letter offering $60 deed, county
Broward and Palm Beach county officials are warning
residents not to be fooled by the official-looking letters
from Plantation-based Florida Record Retrieval Inc. They
say most people never need a certified their
deeds, and the documents can be easily and cheaply
obtained directly from county records. They fear elderly
and other unsuspecting homeowners could be fooled.
An investigation last year by state Attorney
General Bill McCollum led the company to agree in writing
to follow laws against misleading advertising, contribute
$10,000 to a consumer-protection program and pay $25,000
in state legal bills. An investigation in the
spring by Broward County's Consumer Affairs Division
resulted in further changes to Florida Record's letters.
"This looks like a very legal note that people are
getting, and they might think that it's something that
they really need," Broward Clerk of Court Howard Forman
said. "You shouldn't charge people $60 for something they
can get at little cost."
I find this tactic appalling, personally. I'm glad to see at
least one state's attorney general taking some action. It would be
nice to see investigations across the country into these scams. I
can only assume that this has been a profitable venture...
otherwise, you would think the cost of the direct mail campaign
and the $35,000 expense Florida Record Retrieval paid would be
enough to put an end to the practice. But, apparently, they are
still going at it.
What do you think? Is this just a creative, legitimate way to
earn revenue in a down market? Or, is it just another scam? What
would you think if your grandmother paid $70 for a her
About the author:
Robert A. Franco has been in the title industry for nearly 15 years in the
state of Ohio. The owner of
a full service abstracting and title company, and the founder and
president of Source of Title, a
Web site devoted to providing media and marketing services to the title
industry, Franco has dedicated much of his professional career to
furthering the role and significance of title examiners in the title