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familybuyinghouseHomeowners beware: there’s a deeds scam out there.

The Norfolk County Register of Deeds recently advised residents of a fraudulent direct-mail solicitation that offers homeowners a certified copy of their property deed, but asks way too much money in return. The scammers are asking consumers to pay anywhere from $59.50-$83 for a property deed that usually costs only about $3.

This scam is not new. If you’ve recently purchased a home, you’re open to being targeted no matter what county you live in – and scammers especially love to prey on first-time homebuyers as they are often overwhelmed with the legal and financial documents required to purchase a home.

The solicitation seems legitimate, and often the property information included is correct. But remember, scammers can obtain homeowner information easily as property sales and are public records.

What to do if you receive this solicitation notice:

Contact your county clerk’s office. Even if the recorder’s office is unable to help you directly, bringing the crime to their attention might stop the scammer from victimizing others.

Also, report the theft to local law enforcement immediately. Depending on the location, police might be willing to investigate the crime or assist County Clerk’s office in alerting your neighbors about the scam.

How to avoid the deed copy letter scam:

Carefully read every document that arrives in the mail, even if you are inundated with paperwork as a new homeowner. If you see something fishy, check with an expert such as your realtor or closing attorney who can question the document’s validity.

If you want a copy of your own property deed:

Contact your county clerk’s office and they will provide you with a copy.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws and Arbitration Program, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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