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Herring warns of deed scam

Published 10:49pm Thursday, March 6, 2014

As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Mark R. Herring has warned Virginia property owners to be cautious of companies offering to sell them a copy of the deed to their home.

Homeowners throughout the state have been receiving official-looking letters, often titled “Deed Processing Notice,” that offer to sell homeowners a copy of their deed for $83. The letters include language that may result in the homeowner believing he or she must comply by a specific date.

“Even though these letters look like official notices, they are actually solicitations and should be treated as such,” Herring said in a press release about the scam.

“Most home and property owners will receive a copy of their deed at the time of purchase, but if a deed is lost or needs to be replaced, county clerks can often do so at a much lower price. Consumers should read these letters carefully and know they are under no obligation to take action by any artificial deadline.”

Copies of deeds (typically two- to three-page documents) are available from some local court clerks for as little as 50 cents per page, plus $2 if a certified copy is desired.  Consumers are encouraged to check with their local court clerk for pricing information.

The Consumer Protection section of the Office of the Attorney General enforces state and federal consumer protection laws, keeping Virginians safe from things like identity theft, consumer fraud and telemarketing scams, and enforces antitrust laws that protect businesses and consumers from behavior that defeats healthy competition.

The Attorney General’s office serves as the central clearinghouse for the receipt, evaluation, investigation, and referral of consumer complaints. When there is a pattern of deception or other wrongdoing, the Attorney General is authorized to take action to stop the illegal conduct, and, where appropriate, seek refunds for affected consumers.

If you have a consumer complaint or believe you have been a victim of fraud or another consumer crime, call the Virginia Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-552-9963 or visit www.ag.virginia.gov to fill out an online complaint.

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