County Raises Awareness of New Law to Curb Costly Deed Scams
April 21, 2014
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 843-8858 or Kristi Chlebowski, Dane County Register of Deeds, (608) 267-8814
A new state law is helping counties crack down on solicitors looking to make a profit off unsuspecting homeowners, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Dane County Register of Deeds Kristi Chlebowski announced today.
Homeowners in Dane County have been targeted by companies that send misleading, official-looking mail solicitations urging individuals to pay the company $80 or more to obtain a copy of the deed to their home by a certain deadline – up to 40 times more than if the homeowner sought a copy from the county’s Register of Deeds office.
In reality, homeowners should have already received a copy of their deed from the title company they used to buy their home. Fine print at the bottom of the solicitation keeps the scam legal – stating that the invoice is not a bill and that homeowners can obtain records through the county.
Wisconsin Act 247, recently signed into law, seeks to severely limit or eliminate these deed solicitations and protect the public. Solicitors are now required to place their disclaimers more prominently in their mail and are limited to charging no more than four times the amount that would be charged by a state or local agency for the deed. Solicitors can be fined up to $100 for each document distributed in violation of the law.
“Dane County residents now have additional protection from deed solicitors who are trying to make a quick buck off one of the most important purchases an individual or family can make,” said Parisi. “Many people are new to home ownership and may not know what resources are available – we’re urging caution. If in doubt, call the Register of Deeds to get the most accurate information.”
“The Register of Deeds office does not send out solicitations for real estate or vital records, If you ever receive a letter offering to assist you in obtaining copies of your real estate records or birth certificate, stop by our office or give us a call and we will be glad to help.” Said Chlebowski
Dane County residents are advised to obtain copies of a mortgage, deed, or other official document through the Register of Deeds, rather than through a third-party solicitor.
Copies of deeds can obtained for as a little as $2 in person at the Register of Deeds office. More information can be found online at https://www.countyofdane.com/regdeeds/.
Residents are encouraged to report any deed solicitations they may be concerned about to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection at visit datcp.wi.gov, send an e-mail to email@example.com, or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.