A company that sells copies of property deeds at steep prices, and which has been the subject of consumer warnings in several states, is showing up in mailboxes in Jackson County.
The company, Record Retrieval Department, is based in California and has a mailing address in Fulton, Mo.
Its letter to homeowners looks like an official document and says the “State Record Regulation Department” recommends that all U.S. homeowners obtain a copy of their “current grant deed” providing evidence that they do, in fact, own their home.
The company then offers to provide a “property profile” for $87. The letter also says it is a “final notice” and warns of an additional $35 fee if the order is not received before a certain date.
But property deeds recorded in Jackson County since the early 1960s can be viewed online and printed out, said Dan Ferguson, a spokesman for the county.
People can go to the courthouse and obtain copies of deeds and other documents for $2 for the first page and $1 for each additional page. They are public records and any individual can obtain them.
The company’s letter states at the bottom that it is a solicitation and is not associated with any governmental agency. A call to the phone number provided on the letter guides callers through several recorded options, one of which acknowledges it is not a mandatory service and there is no penalty for throwing the letter away.
Tim Slone, a customer service representative at Record Retrieval Department, acknowledged that his company is providing what property owners could obtain for themselves. But he said some people may not be able to get to their county recorder’s office or print out their deed at home.
Attorneys general, real estate agents and the Better Business Bureau have warned consumers that the service offered by the company is unnecessary and overpriced.
Attorney General Michael A. Delaney of New Hampshire said earlier this month that the service offered is “of questionable value.”