By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
Floyd County Recorder Lois Endris warned residents Thursday that a misleading announcement is apparently being mailed to local land owners suggesting they should pay $87 to obtain their property deeds.
A copy of the mailer was provided to the News and Tribune after it had been brought to Endris from a Floyd County resident who said they received it Wednesday.
The company is listed as the Record Retrieval Department, based in Indianapolis, and the letter asserts that the “State Record Regulation Department recommends that all United States homeowners obtain a copy of their current” grant deed, which is a document showing ownership of a specific lot.
According to the letter, for an $87 processing fee the recipient can obtain their grant deed and a property profile which shows “all pertinent property and owner information for the designated property.”
According to the letter, if payment isn’t received by May 16, an additional $35 charge will be added to the processing fee.
Though according to the end of letter, the Record Retrieval Department isn’t associated with any government agency, Endris said the document is misleading and that she intends to file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General over the matter.
Endris said this mailing was actually discussed recently during a gathering of county recorders from around the state in Indianapolis.
“Obviously, it’s not a legitimate company,” she said.
Property owners aren’t legally required to obtain a copy of their grant deed, Endris said.
“Once a deed is recorded, you don’t have to have a copy of it, it’s not like a car title,” she said.
Additionally, grant deeds are usually two to three pages in length, Endris said. In Floyd County, the recorder’s office charges $1 per printed page.
Endris said a property owner could likely obtain a copy of their grant deed for no more than a few dollars, while the company in question is charging $87 for the service.
A voice mail answers the phone number listed on the mailing, and the man on the message provides a list of options for people to choose from who received the letter.
The man states on the voice mail that obtaining the grant deed “is not mandatory” and the service is being offered “for your convenience only.”
The man also said on the message that due to staff cutbacks, the company is unable to provide a live operator to answer questions currently.
Bryan Corbin, public information officer for the state attorney general’s office, said they don’t have a complaint on record for Deed Retrieval Services.
However, he said based on details provided by the News and Tribune, the company sounded similar to a business named National Deed Services Inc.
Corbin said the attorney general’s office received three consumer complaints about National Deed Services in 2009.
“Such schemes typically involve a company sending to homeowners a mass mailing that might look like an official government notice or bill, but is in fact a solicitation that offers the consumer a copy of their deed record for a large fee,” said Corbin, as he added people many times have to read “the fine print” to find all the details.
As Endris noted, Corbin said such records are typically available for a nominal fee at the local courthouse.
“The attorney general’s office recommends that consumers who receive such solicitations in the mail disregard and discard them. Unless they are selling a house, most homeowners probably don’t need a paper copy of their deed.”
If a consumer has already paid for the service and feels it was overpriced, Corbin said they can file a consumer complaint with the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division at the website www.indianaconsumer.com.
“The Consumer Protection Division can pursue mediation and explore whether a company might be willing to refund the consumer’s money, but there are no guarantees that a refund will be forthcoming,” Corbin said.