Our office habitually records deed for real property in Maricopa County, Arizona. Like most law firms, once recorded, we return the original deed to the client for their records. The act of recording the deed officially alters how the property is titled and it also turns the deed into a public record, meaning anyone can visit the county recorder and see the recordings.
Homeowners should be aware of various letters subsequently mailed out to them. The official-looking letters come from companies with names like “Local Records Office”, “First Documents” and “National Record Service, Inc.” The letters demand as much as $89 for a copy of your deed. While the letters do include disclaimers in the fine print, the disclaimers are easy to skip over.
These companies search public records in Arizona, as well as nationwide and send these letters hoping to make a profit. However, the only place to get an official copy of your recorded deed is through your local county recorder. The “deed scam” in not new. In fact, the Attorney General in Indiana as well as Iowa have banned National Record Service Inc. from soliciting residents there. Officials in New York, Nebraska, Iowa, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have warned consumers against First Documents. And in Washington state, Local Records Office was forced to pay $3.6 million in fines.
Why it’s a Problem:
You will have the original deed in your possession. We will retain a copy in our files, and should you ever need a copy, we are happy to forward one to you.
Additionally, Maricopa County allows you to obtain an unofficial copy of your deed, at no charge, simply by downloading a copy from their website. If you needed an official copy of a deed recorded in Maricopa County, you can easily obtain one at a significantly reduced price by contacting the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.
As scams appear more and more sophisticated and authentic it is important to remain vigilant. Should you have any questions about your deed or if you need assistance determining if correspondence received is legitimate or not, please reach out to your attorney or our office.
-Rachel S. Zaslow, Esq.