Jan 29, 2013 3:30 PM by Melissa Canone
If someone is looking to sell or refinance their home, they will likely need a copy of the deed if you do not already have one. But one company is charging many times the courthouse cost to obtain the document for you and has been the subject of several calls to the Bette Business Bureau of Acadiana from concerned residents.
The BBB is alerting residents to Secured Document Services, which apparently also does business as Conveyance Transfer. The two companies share the same address.
The business mails forms to local residents offering to obtain copies of deeds for them for a fee of about $83, but resident can easily obtain the information themselves by visiting a local courthouse in the parish where the property is located for only a few dollars.
The company, based out of Washington D.C., has an F rating with the BBB due to eight complaints filed against the business, failure to respond to three complaints and the BBB does not have sufficient background information on the business.
According to their BBB Business review, consumers have reported receiving billing notices regarding payment of a fee to obtain a copy of their property deed. The notices appear to be official government documents, but are, in fact, a solicitation for services from SDS.
Many of the recipients of the mailing are new home owners, who report difficulty in contacting the company sending the notices. Company responses to the BBB have come without any person's name connected to the response.
The company's full BBB business review is available online at http://www.bbb.org/washington-dc-eastern-pa/business-reviews/advertising-direct-mail/secured-document-services-in-washington-dc-235990095.
The BBB offers the following tips to avoid this and similar scams:
Start with trust. Always check with the BBB before doing business.
Use extreme caution when receiving mailings from unknown parties implying a requirement to pay a fee to obtain a document. IF you are in doubt, check with a local government agency to see if you need the document and the actual cost to obtain it.
Always be skeptical of mailings from unknown sources and read the fine print carefully. They frequently come from a Washington, DC or other official-looking address, but are not from any government office and are solicitations. They ask you to pay a fee to obtain a document you may already have or can obtain from your local government agency for significantly less cost.
If you are thinking about selling or refinancing your home, you will need a copy of your deed. But you don't need to pay scammers for one.
Where to get a new one: Call or check the website of the Parish clerk of court, where deeds are usually recorded.
What you need to get it: The street address or GPS coordinates of the property. There is usually no fee if you request the title yourself, but there may be a small charge for copying and certification.
How long it takes: The process takes about 10 business days in most cases.
The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.
Please contact the BBB at www.acadiana.bbb.org or (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.
The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.
Acadiana residents can now have BBB information in the palm of their hand with the official BBB Search app, a convenient, mobile BBB solution available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app can be found at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bbb-search-find-local-businesses/id440014505?mt=8.
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