Business Blog

AG Ferguson cracks down on deed scam

The office of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against a California company that uses official-looking mailings to convince real estate purchasers that they need to pay $89 for a copy of their deed.

The Bellflower-based California company calls itself "Local Records Office."

Here's the info from Ferguson's press release:

Local Records Office sends the solicitations in an envelope that says “IMPORTANT PROPERTY INFORMATION RESPOND PROMPTLY” on the front. The return address on the envelope is usually a mail drop or post office box located in the consumer’s state capital. This has led some consumers to believe that the letter is coming from a state government agency.   

In Washington, deeds are filed in the county where the property is located. A person can obtain a copy of a deed for as little as $1 per page from the auditor or county recorder where the property is located. Most property deeds are only one to two pages in length, so consumers should only pay a couple of dollars for a copy of their deed.

“Local Records Office uses deceptive business practices to scam consumers,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “My office is going after them to prevent consumers from being duped out of money.”

(End press release)

A quick online search indicates that consumer advocates in California have been raising alarms about "Local Records Office" since at least March 2012.

FYI: In Whatcom County, property deeds can be viewed online on the Whatcom County Auditor's website, and you can print your own unofficial copy for free.)

Here is a link to the full text of the lawsuit.

Ferguson's press release also notes that in 2011, the state filed a similar lawsuit against a company using the same business model.

That company called itself "State Record Retrieval Board."