Question: My elderly mother received a notice in the mail from a company saying she should send them $70.00 to get a certified copy of the deed to her house. The notice says that the U.S. Government recommends she have a certified copy of her deed. But in the fine print it also says these documents are free from the government. Is this just a scam? Should I be alarmed by the mail notice?
Answer: I also received one of these notices and laughed when I read it. The company, called the National Deed Service, Inc., is located at Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC. – a precarious address which no doubt attempts to add legitimacy to this non-government entity. The notice is quite formal and tries to urge homeowners to obtain a certified copy of their deed. It justifies its claims by referring to the U.S. Government Federal Citizen Information Center website.
For fun, I searched this website and found no advice about having a certified copy of one’s deed. I did, however, find a section about current consumer scams. Guess which company is listed…
The company appears to be conducting legal activity by charging simply for doing the legwork necessary to obtain a certified copy of one’s deed. But the company crosses the line by creating a false sense of urgency for homeowners. Sure, a homeowner should have a copy of their deed. But a certified copy is not a requirement. A certified copy of a deed is rarely used in legal actions.
Furthermore, anyone wishing to walk into the Registry of Deeds at 360 Gorham Street, Lowell can get a free certified copy of their deed. Of course there is always the plain old copy version available for download at www.lowelldeeds.com.
$70.00 is a hefty price to pay for this “service”. For this amount of money, your Mother can hire a limousine to drive her and some friends to the Registry to get free certified copies of their deeds. Sounds like a fun day out.