BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler warned consumers on Wednesday about offers to provide copies of property deeds for a large sum of money.
Gansler issued the warning about deed retrieval service companies as part of National Consumer Protection Week. Companies using official-sounding names are sending mail solicitations advising consumers to pay up to $100 or more to obtain copies of their property deeds. Such records can often be obtained from the clerk of the circuit court's office for a much smaller fee.
"These are basic, yet sophisticated sales pitches that attempt to take consumers' hard-earned money," Gansler said. "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."
The solicitations include the fine print that homeowners can obtain a copy from a government entity and that the sender has no government affiliation. The mailings also include detailed property information that make them appear more official. This information is public and can be easily found online.
Gansler warned consumers against paying for private deed retrieval services because copies of deeds and other land records can be obtained for $20 or less. In addition, many consumers already have a copy of their property deed because it is typically among the documents new homeowners receive at the time of a purchase.