AG Gansler Warns Consumers About Property Deed Services Offers
Homeowners can get cheaper copy at local courthouse
Baltimore, MD (March 5, 2014) - As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler warned consumers to decline any solicitation charging a large sum of money to provide copies of their property deeds. These records can typically be obtained from the Clerk of the Circuit Court's office for a much smaller fee than what private deed retrieval services charge.
"These are basic, yet sophisticated sales pitches that attempt to take consumers' hard-earned money," said Attorney General Gansler. "Homeowners should avoid paying a private company for a copy of public records they might already have and that can be easily obtained if they don't."
In the mail solicitations, which have been reported across the country, companies using official-sounding names advise consumers to pay up to $100 - or more in some cases - to obtain copies of their property deeds.
The solicitations typically disclose -- in smaller print -- that homeowners can obtain a copy from a government entity and that the sender has no affiliation with the government. The solicitations used to sell these types of services also list detailed property information, which can make them look more official even though the information - purchase date, sale price, year built, square footage and more - is public and easily found on the Internet.
Consumers may need a copy of their deed in certain legal matters, such as divorce or estate proceedings. However, Attorney General Gansler is warning consumers against paying for private deed retrieval services because copies of deeds and many other land records can usually be obtained for a fee of $20 or less from the Clerk's Office in each county's Circuit Court. Additionally, most consumers probably already have a copy of their property deed because it is usually among the documents that new homeowners receive at the time of purchase.
Attorney General Gansler advises consumers who receive this solicitation to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 410-528-8662 or 888-743-0023. Consumers may file a complaint at http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/complaint.htm.