Consumer Alert: Deed Retrieval Services Solicitations

NEWS RELEASE

Released By      Michael A. Delaney, Attorney General

Subject:              Consumer Advisory About Deed Retrieval Services Solicitations

                     

Date:                      August 3, 2012

Release Time:       Immediate

Contact:        Senior Assistant Attorney General James T. Boffetti

                            Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau

                            (603) 271-0302

                            james.boffetti@doj.nh.gov   

CONSUMER ALERT

Attorney General Michael A. Delaney issued the following consumer alert to all New Hampshire property owners:

Consumers should be aware of mailings being sent to property owners throughout the state from companies using the names:

 SECURED DOCUMENT SERVICES, and DEED RETRIEVAL SERVICES

The mailings appear to be official government notices recommending, “that all United States [or New Hampshire] homeowners obtain a copy of their current grant deed” and further indicate that, for a fee of $86.00 or $87.00, these companies will provide the property owner with a copy of their Grant Deed and a Property Profile.

The Attorney General advises that these companies are providing a service of questionable value and the information advertised in these solicitations can be obtained from any of the State’s Registers of Deeds for significantly less money. With deeds so easily and inexpensively attainable, the existence of these companies depends greatly on the public’s unfamiliarity with the county registers of deeds offices.

 Attorney General Delaney stated, “The real lesson for an educated consumer is to know what you are paying for, which in the case of these deed retrieval companies is virtually nothing more than a homeowner can acquire for far less cost.  Don’t be fooled by a company whose name sounds ‘official’ or by an ‘official’ looking notice designed to confuse and mislead you.  If you would like a copy of your deed, you can obtain it yourself for nominal cost and time, or contact your county’s Register of Deeds, who would be glad to assist you.”

Under New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act, N.H. RSA 358-A, it is unlawful for any person to use any unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of any trade or commerce within this state. Anyone who feels they have been the victim of any unfair or deceptive act should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau hotline at (603) 271-3641 or 1-888-468-4454.  For more information on consumer fraud you can also visit the Bureau’s website at www.doj.nh.gov/consumer.

If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer you to licensed and insured attorneys who handle consumer protection matters in your area.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

How to Prevent Property Fraud

According to the FBI, property fraud is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes, and anyone who owns property is at risk.

Unfortunately, it’s not difficult for a criminal to record a fraudulent deed for your property, making it appear as if they now own your home.  Once this is  done, they can use your home as collateral on a loan or even attempt to sell your home to an unsuspecting buyer.  You are the one left to sort out the mess once the criminals  have skipped town with the money.

To prevent this from happening to you, register for the Property Fraud Alert System at www.propertyfraudalert.com.  This service will alert you anytime someone records anything with your information on it with your county.  There is no charge for this service.  Most NH County Registries of Deeds offer the service directly from their websites, or you may call 1-800-728-3858 to register.

If you do become a victim of property fraud or any other type of identity theft, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can help with a referral to an attorney who is trained to handle this type of legal matter.  Call LRS at 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.