After receiving reports of deceptive solicitations sent to homeowners, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is warning Rhode Islanders of "deed processing notice" letters offering a "complete deed and property profile" for a fee.
The notices look official, listing the property information, including parcel and zone identification. Recent home buyers are targeted and urged to respond quickly. Since the companies are sending the letters shortly after a property closes, new homeowners may not think it unreasonable that there may be additional title fees owed.
"You do not have to pay exorbitant fees for a copy of your deed," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "When you purchase a home, your title company should process the deed so there is no need to pay a secondary agency for what you probably have already or can obtain yourself from your Town Clerk's office for a few dollars. These solicitations do not come from a governmental agency; they are private companies trying to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners."
The notices have originated from several different companies purporting to be "record transfer" or "deed retrieval" services. News reports warning property owners of this type of solicitation have surfaced across the country.
"Without close inspection, people may just toss these notices in their pile of bills to be paid," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Especially at this time of year when finances are tight for many families, we do not want new homeowners to fall victim to this deceptive marketing."
If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Department of Rhode Island Attorney General at (401) 274-4400. You can download a consumer complaint by visiting our website at www.riag.ri.gov. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.
Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.
The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams.