Companies target homeowners with unnecessary fees

DENVER - Companies are trying to charge Coloradans big money for paperwork they can get on their own for a lot less.

They send official-looking letters to people who've recently bought a home, asking for up to $89 to provide a copy of the recorded deed. And while the notices include a section in small print that says the service "is not associated with any governmental agency," the Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder is still concerned.

"It looks as though if you don't pay for this copy of your deed, you're not in compliance with something that can be very concerning to a homeowner," says BBB spokeswoman, Megan Herrera.

Most homeowners get a copy of their recorded deed after the purchase of a home is completed. And if they want another copy from the county, they can get one for a nominal fee.

"It's an extreme difference in price with these letters," explains Herrera. "It's usually around $80 to $89 they want you to pay, when you can go to your county and get it for as little as a dollar a page."

One of the companies mailing marked-up notices operates as "Local Records Office" and lists an address in downtown Denver. But Herrera says they're not just targeting Colorado homeowners. The company operates all over the U.S. and has an "F" rating because of government action against it by Indiana's Attorney General.

Another of the companies, operating as "Property Transfer Services" lists an address in Sioux Falls, which the BBB found is actually just a rented box at a UPS Store.

Herrera warns that you should read the fine print if you receive one of these notices. And if you have any questions, you can contact your county directly or check with the Better Business Bureau.


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