ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County’s register of deeds is warning property owners about deceptive mailings from a California records company seeking to cash in on North Carolina real estate deals.
Register of Deeds Linda W. Douglas said a company called Record Transfer Services is sending direct-mail solicitations to grantees in real estate transactions throughout the state. The mailings are titled “Deed processing notice” and ask owners to pay $83 to obtain copies of their current deeds — a service the state attorney general’s office says is unnecessary.
“(I)n North Carolina, grantees routinely are sent a copy of the filed deed by the closing attorney, so there is little need for the service being pitched in the mailing,” Special Deputy Attorney General David Kirkman wrote in an email to the Iredell County register of deeds. “The mailing, however, appears designed to make those grantees believe they must respond immediately by sending the designated fee of $83.”
The mailings have been reported in Iredell and Union counties and may be showing up elsewhere in the Tar Heel State. The N.C. Department of Justice is asking registers of deeds to forward any reports of the solicitations to its office.
“The attorney general’s office has gone to court to stop similar mailings, including one mailed into the state 18 months ago by another California firm named Local Records Office,” Kirkman said in the email.
Record Transfer Services is based in Westlake Village, California. The Better Business Bureau has given it an “F” grade for 11 complaints filed against the business in the past three years.
The company uses alternate business names including Compliance Document Services, Deed Processing Center and Property Transfer Service, the Better Business Bureau says.
Last June, Indiana’s attorney general sued the company and two others over misleading mailings that offered copies of deeds for up to $89, according to the BBB.
Property deeds and other public records are available at the Richmond County register of deeds office. Residents are charged nominal copying fees and are not charged a “processing fee” like the one advertised in the mailing.
Requests for birth, death and marriage records in Richmond County can be filed online at http://richmondrod.net.
Anyone who receives the Record Transfer Services mailing or any direct mail they believe to be deceptive or fraudulent can call the N.C. Department of Justice’s consumer hotline at 1-877-NO-SCAM (1-877-566-7226).