Lake County homeowners should beware of deceptive offers from companies offering to obtain certified deeds at a high cost, Lake County Recorder Mary Ellen Vanderventer said.
Vanderventer’s office has been flooded with phone calls asking about a letter homeowners have received about the deed to their home, she said.
The letter looks official but “the true purpose of the letter is to get you to spend your hard-earned money and it’s a scam,” Vanderventer said. She added one company does indicate, in small print, that homeowners can obtain certified copies on their own.
Two companies soliciting homeowners are Illinois Deed Providers and Deed Retrieval Services. The companies offer to provide homeowners a certified copy of the deed to their home for $99 plus $4.50 for postage and handling, she said.
Illinois Deed Providers did not return phone calls. However, a phone message explains what the company does. Deed Retrieval Services’s phone was disconnected.
Homeowners can get a copy of their deed through the Recorder’s office where the copy fee is $1 per page. The average deed is four pages or less, Vanderventer said.
Businesses like these have popped up in the past, often targeting the elderly, she said. However, new homeowners have become the latest targets because this group is vulnerable, she said.
“These companies see (new homeowners) as vulnerable because you want to be sure all of your paperwork is in order regarding your new home,” she said.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides information about businesses like Illinois Deed Providers and Deed Retrieval Services, advising consumers that “deeds are usually required only during transactions such as home loan refinancing, transactions to obtain a home insurance policy or a sale,” the website stated. For homeowners selling their homes, Realtors will take care of obtaining a certified deed.
The BBB’s website lists Illinois Deed Providers out of Northbrook but the company operates under another name and address. The company has a C- rating and is not BBB accredited. Companies are not required to obtain accreditation, according to BBB’s website.
Deed Retrieval Services has offices listed out of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Rhode Island on the BBB website. All had an F rating and the BBB warned consumers to be careful if they receive any letters from the company.