Bryan Cohen May 16, 2013, 7:15pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) -- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Better Business Bureau warned consumers Wednesday about businesses offering to sell copies of records to Washington residents for an inflated price.

A company calling itself Local Records Office allegedly offered to sell property deeds and other local records for $89. The documents are actually available for a much lower price from local government offices at about $1 a page.

"The Attorney General's Office helps protect people from deceptive marketing practices such as these," Ferguson said. "The documents offered by these companies are readily available at a much lower cost from local government offices."

Other companies previously offered high-priced copies of property deeds to Washington residents. In 2011, the Attorney General's Office reached a settlement with State Record Retrieval Board, a company that allegedly sent deceptive notices to state residents, telling them they had to pay $87 to obtain a copy of their deed or they would be assessed an additional $35 charge for missing a deadline.

Companies that offer to provide property deeds often deceive consumers by sending letters that appear to be from government agencies. The letters may provide a disclaimer that the company is not government-affiliated but employ deceptive tactics like instructing consumers to respond promptly, creating the impression of governmental action and using professional codes to create a false sense of authority and legitimacy.

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