A Ridiculous Offer

One of the most ridiculous things I have ever read came in the mail today.


Some outfit called National Deed Services, Inc., which surprisingly claims to be based in Washington, DC as opposed to Nigeria, wrote me this official looking letter telling me that the U.S. Government Federal Citizen Information Center “recommends that property owners should have a certified copy of their deed.” These kind folks offer to get me one for only $69.50.

Where to start…

First of all, a Google search for the “U.S. Government Federal Citizen Information Center” leads to a lot of pages citing that esteemed web site, but no web site with that exact name. I suspect the reference is intended to be or appear to be a reference to FirstGov.Gov, the “U.S Government’s official web portal.” I searched for all the likely terms on that page and couldn’t find anything advising me to get a certified copy of my deed. So while it may be a good idea, I don’t think the U.S. government is screaming for me to pay these folks $69.50 to get me a certified copy of my deed…

Especially when I can easily get it myself for $62.50 less than these folks want to charge me. That’s right, you can get a certified copy of your deed from the local clerk’s office. In Harris County, the charge is $5.00 for the certification plus $1.00 per page. I have a 2 page deed so it would be $5.00 + $2.00 = $7.00.

I’m not the only person who has a problem with this so called service.

As noted in the article above, it’s not illegal to charge someone a high price to do something that can otherwise be done cheaply, so there’s nothing illegal about this offer. Plus, there is the language at the bottom that as much as tells you that you are being wildly overcharged (I suspect that some attorney general somewhere required them to add that language). Nevertheless, it’s wrong to scare people into thinking this is something they should do to protect themselves and then charge them almost 10 times the cost to do it.

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0 responses to “A Ridiculous Offer

  1. I too received this solicitation, only this time from a company called Illinois Deed Provider, Inc. ostensibly out of Northbrook, IL, and the charge was $79.50.Illinois Deed Provider has been around since 2001 and also operates under the assumed names: NEVADA DEED PROVIDER,INC. and NATIONAL DEED SERVICE INC. The company’s Officer & Director is: BARRY J ISAACSON PRESIDENT 823 LEAMINGTON WILMETTE IL 60091…… I guess that Joel (the last name listed on the solicitation letter) is Barry’s middle name.Other information from the IL Secretary of State:Federal Employer ID Number: 72-1519260Corporation Number: 61922482Annual Report: Date Mailed: 9/9/2005 Delinquency Statement Date: 12/9/2005 Business must not be that good. Isn’t is amazing the information available over the internet from our local governments for FREE. I wonder if I can charge Barry $79.50 for it. It might remind him to file his corporate annual report on time.

  2. The following is the web site referenced in the letters:From the Federal Web Site (http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cfocus/cfhouseholdrecords03/focus.htm#safe}:”Safe Deposit BoxIf you don’t have one, get a safe deposit box in a bank convenient to your home. In many cases, banks will let you take out a box, even if you’re not a customer. Remember that you should use your safe deposit box for originals; you’ll still need copies at home if something tragic should happen to you and your safe deposit box is sealed. If you’d rather have your records at home, then get a fireproof safe. A good rule of thumb is: Put documents in the box if you can’t easily replace them or if you don’t know what might happen if you don’t have it.If applicable, you should have official or certified copies of documents for your safe deposit box. Most government records are available free or at a nominal cost from government offices. There are companies that offer services to help you obtain copies of official papers, but you should always check to see if you can obtain the same information free or at a much lower price. It is a good idea to keep the following documents in your safe deposit box:Birth certificates Citizenship papers Marriage certificates Adoption papers Divorce decrees *Wills *Advance directives *Powers of attorney Death certificates Deeds Titles to cars Household inventory Veteran’s papers Bonds and stock certificates Important contracts Passports *Since the safe deposit box will be sealed at your death, keep a copy of your will someplace accessible. The same goes for the advance directive and the power of attorney since you may not be able to give others access to the safe deposit box”National Deed Service, provdes a valid service for property owners to effiently obtain a certified copy of their deed. There is a service charge that is collceted for obtaining and sending the certified deeds to property owners.A similar situation is that an individual can get a video rental from the local library for free, or they can pay Blockbuster for the same video. Blockbuster provides the service by having more available, more locations and better hours.Another analagy is that newmspapers charge for their papers when people can get all of the news for free on the internet. Many people pay over $20 per month to have their news aggregated and devievered to them.Or everyone can get tax advice for free from the IRS, yet thousands of people opt to pay attornies and accountants for tax services for the convenience and level of service.It is not an easy process to obtain public records from a governmental agency. It often requires people to travel to the recorders office, loose time from work and pay, locate the proper office, deal with the people at the office, and locate their document number and wait for the document to be produced. Sometimes, the process will take two trips, and in some cities the cost of parking alone could be $20 plus each day. This is not an easy process. When considering all of the above, the service provided by National Deed Service is an effective service.

  3. I got the same thing – I am also in Harris County, TX. I checked into the tax records and found that the name they used was from one street over from me from someone who apparently had indeed bought their house recently. The reference number for the deed was off by one from my deed though. So it looks like they are cross referencing real data and changing the name, but close enough to have it appear similar. Then they scare you with the “If the above info is incorrect, please cross out and coorect” making you think that the county has screwed up in registering your deed. Thanks for the info on this scam.Doug

  4. I received the very same letter (today 4/25/06), except the sender is now:CALIFORNIA RECORD RETRIEVAL, INC.15503 Ventura Blvd, Suite 900Sherman Oaks, CA 91403Phone: 866-890-3286www.nationaldeed.comEverything is exactly the same, even the sender “Barry Joel” is the same.What a scam.

  5. I don’t know why the Illinois Deed Provider material wouldn’t be considered mail fraud if there is no such thing as the “U.S. Government Federal Citizen Information Center” website. I have not been able to find it. Can anyone else?

  6. “I don’t know why the Illinois Deed Provider material wouldn’t be considered mail fraud if there is no such thing as the “U.S. Government Federal Citizen Information Center” website. I have not been able to find it. Can anyone else?”http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?programId=9605&channelId=-13326&ooid=10161&contentId=12811&pageTypeId=8199&contentType=GSA_BASIC&programPage=%2Fep%2Fprogram%2FgsaBasic.jsp&P=XAE

  7. Forgot to mention I just got this letter today.Hmm, maybe I will return their “NO POSTAGE NECESSARY IF MAILED IN THE UNITED STATES” envelope with a handful of rocks.

  8. Jay from Oradell, NJ

    I just got this today, I immediately thought it was a scam and googled ‘deed service scams’ and found your posting, thanks for your helpful posting. One thing different about the letter i got was Barry’s name no longer appeared…they probably fired him for not fooling enough people….

  9. Jay from Oradell, NJ

    oh and by the way i forgot to mention they have increased their rates they now charge 79.50…I think it is costing them more to run a scam these days…

  10. Thanks for posting, I rcvd a similar letter from *Illinois Deed Provider, North Brook, IL 60062*. I live in Kane County, IL and found this link on the Kane County Recorder’s website that clears the air in government lingo…http://www.kanecountyrecorder.net/press/20060510.aspx

  11. these guys actually are threatening to sue another blog that insinuated that they were a scam, so pls be aware…http://moveuptonaperville.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_moveuptonaperville_archive.html

  12. Thanks, but I worded my post carefully. I said there was nothing illegal about charging people that price for a copy of a deed. I simply said that I think their offer is ridiculous, which is my constitutionally protected opinion.

  13. Just received an identical letter in Tucson, AZ…Other relevent info sources on the web:http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=368268http://www.accessclarkcounty.com/newsletters/sand_m/2006-Nov/Nov_deeds.html


  15. got one in san jose ca. called a friend with web access, found this site thanks for internet!!!!

  16. I just received this letter. I thought it was the same person trying to charge me for for a past debt I never had even though they had all of my information and trying to convince me I owed. Anyway National Deed Service is charging $59.90. They must charge less to Californians…I feel so special.

  17. Crooks! I got the same as well! It is scary to think that they could change the wording on this and make it look like a official governament mail and then scam you for SSN and CC numbers!

  18. My leter was from Washinton D.C. and no name was on the letter. Most of the information was incorrect.It’s a shame and a scam what these companies do to the public, especially the elderly. Just before the dotted line it state,”MANY GOVERMENT RECORDS ARE AVILABLE FREE OR AT A NOMIAL COST FROM AGENCIES.” So I have forwarded my letter to the Better Business Bureau We all should do this!


  20. Just got this letter, too (Feb. 6, ’07), from “National Deed Service”, and they’re asking $69.50 here in PA. No name is on the letter, but they use a D.C. address, and list their website as nationaldeed.com Absolutely ridiculous.

  21. I have just received the same solicitation in Washington County, MN. When I typed in their address to check them out, thank God yours was the first entry I saw.THANK YOU for preventing me from getting involved with such a scam.Judi in MN

  22. Why is this a scam? Isn’t a scam when someone offers to provide somenhing and then does not deliver? Has anyone paid for this service and NOT received what they paid for? I think not. I think the problem here is that people are offended when someone else tries to make a dollar. Obviously ther is overhead and profit built into the price of his service – bust so what? Don’t you make a profit on what you do? If not, why do it? In my opinion, this is a service of convenience – that’s all. It is not, by defination a scam. I believe the poster and everyone else who received this letter has the option of throwing it away.

  23. Unscrupulous and Scandalous Predators!!! Unfortunately some ignorant sucker is going to pay the amount for this service.The solicitators should be thrown in jail, or fined at least for doing something as unethical as this!!!!

  24. John Occhi,like minds think alike. You must be unscrupulous just like the solicitor of this offer! Kudos to you!

  25. Still going. As of 7/31/2007. I got the same letter in the mail. Although… the charge has been reduced to $59.50. They must be having a sale on scams. Thanks for creating posts like this.Trust no one, Google everything!

  26. Okay, maybe not a scam; but certainly a rip off. I just recieved the same letter from National Deed Service for my property in Georgia. Very professional looking. They even referenced the County Clerk Document by number.

  27. Received the same in the mail yesterday. Called them through video relay service and said, “I may be deaf but not dumb. You crook! Scram and get lost!”I did my part and hope more will do the same.Disgusted Deaf American

  28. Haha! I am so glad I Googled this before I sent my money in. And…after reading the letter at least 20 times, I just noticed the statement about government records at the bottom of the page. Thanks so much for the post! You are really saving a lot of people money and trouble.

  29. It is still going around. I am in Texas and the rate was for $59.50. I received it about a week ago. I guess the price is getting lower because they can’t get any takers. I also, immediately thought, SCAM!! What people won’t do for a buck. Absolutely ridiculous. It sounds like the rest of us have got them figured out though!!

  30. Never saw this before but I just got one in PA from National Deed Service, Inc. I guess they got my name from selling my house? I agree, Google everything.

  31. The Federal Web site is legit and as of October, here’s what they say about the deed service: Release Date: October 2007CONSUMER ALERT: FCIC WARNS ABOUT OVERPAYING FOR CERTIFIED DEEDSYour friends at the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) want to warn you about solicitation letters that are being sent out nationwide by a private company regarding buying certified copies of deeds. The letters refer to information found in FCIC’s “Managing Household Records” 2003 online consumer focus article. The company cites that article as a reason for purchasing a certified deed. FCIC wants to make sure that consumers know it is not necessary to use a private company to obtain a certified copy of the deed to your home. You can obtain one from your local Register of Deeds for free or at a low cost.A copy of your deed is just one of the important documents that you should keep in an organized records system. Whether they’re kept in a shoe box or scanned into your computer, there should be one place where you and your loved ones can quickly locate all your important documents during an emergency. In addition to your deed, you should also include your birth and marriage certificates, wills, advance directives, titles of cars, and passports. It’s a good idea to store the original papers in a safe deposit box, and keep copies in a secure place at your home. Get even more information and read, print, or download hundreds of Federal consumers publications for free at http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov. ###

  32. Just received one the other day. Upon checking their web site, there was a reference to a gov’t website. I went there and found the warning that was posted on this site already. No name was signed on my letter, but it is based in NYC and the cost was a “modest” 59.50 in comparison to some of the other prices I saw when reading posts on this site! Thanks for keeping this uptodate!

  33. I received similar letter from National Deed Service, Inc3330 Dundee Road-Suite S-%Northbrook, IL 60062Phone 888-480-1970www.nationaldeed.comRe: Bucks County RecorderDocument #2451-692The contents is similar, the charge is $69.50, no signature.Of course it’s scam.I think scamers like these are subject to FBI investigations.

  34. Still going. Minnesota here. National Deed Service, Inc. out of Northbrook, Illinois 60062. $69.50Phone 888-480-1917. http://www.nationaldeed.com Their dubious business stank to high heaven as soon as I read the letter. A google search confirmed my suspicions. Attorney-generals in all states would do the American public a favor by looking at this business a little more closely.


  36. Still circulating here in California: California Record Retrieval, Inc.; permit 1344 mailed from zip code 60062. Price went up to $79.50…must be an increase from rising gas prices.

  37. I received the same letter from the following folks:California Record Retrieval Inc.15303 Ventura Blvd. Suite 900Sherman Oaks, Ca 91406Insane offer since you can get a copy of your deed from your local County Recorder’s office.Please beware of this scam!!!!West Coast Real Estate Agent. JFx3

  38. Mail the postage paid envelope back to him with a bunch of blank paper (make it weigh as much as possible) so this douchebag has to pay the postage.

  39. Mail the postage paid envelope back to him with a bunch of blank paper (make it weigh as much as possible) so this douchebag has to pay the postage.

  40. I also got the same letter from National Deed Services, NorthBrook, IL. I had actually paid $79.50 to obtain the certificate, but I never received anything from them. Now I realized this is a scam, and I shared my experience with you. DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE!!!

  41. I got this solicitation too! Except, the company name is California Record Retrieval, Inc…. registered as a DBA in Florida, go figure.Anyway, the letter is ver-batum the same as yours, except no signature block.Here, we can get a copy for .25cents a page ($.50 total) instead of the $59.50 they’re asking for. At least they lowered their prices here in CA!What a sham… I hate businesses like this, solely because you know people have been fooled into believing they have to do this and have actually paid these people to do this. Thanks for posting- sad to think they’re still in business. Scheisters!