It's not exactly illegal to charge consumers a fee for a service they really don't need and can do for themselves for much less, but it can certainly be argued that it's taking advantage of people.
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says consumers shouldn't fall for it. In this instance she's referring to a "service" offered by Title Compliance, a company using a Las Vegas post office box.
The company is mailing notices to Nevada residents regarding their property deeds. The company says it will acquire a copy of the homeowner's deed for a payment of $157.00. It also states that, due to the large number of transactions, this would be the only notice of their service.
For starters, most property owners most likely have a copy of their deed, which they received when they purchased the property. If not, the document is readily available at the county courthouse.
Masto says Nevada homeowners should be aware that property deeds and supporting documents can be obtained from the local county recorder's office where these documents where originally filed for much less than the service being advertised, usually just a small copying fee.
"Consumers must be aware that official documents can be obtained from federal, state or local sources for little or no cost by applying directly to the agency involved," Masto said.
She says the scheme is not exactly new and has been tried over and over again in nearly all areas of the country.
"Many companies offer to supply documents and papers for a fee, taking advantage of unsuspecting or uninformed consumers."
Do your homework
Before sending money to a company offering services dealing with government agencies, consumers should always contact the government agency named first. Consumers will often find the services can be obtained directly from that agency with little or no cost.
Masto says it pays to do a little research before doing business with a firm that is new to you. By entering the company's name in a Google, Bing or Yahoo search, or by searching on ConsumerAffairs.com. you'll often find information that the company is operating in a fraudulent or dishonest manner, she says. When dealing with a non-local company, it is wise to do your internet search homework first.
While no determination has been made regarding the legitimacy of Title Compliance, any advertisement that urges quick action should raise red flags, she says.