By Robert Kittle
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs is warning homeowners about an official-looking letter telling them they need a copy of their deed and to send money to get it.
The fee is $83 in some letters and $87 in others, although the amount may vary.
"We haven't gotten any complaints that people have paid and not received. But if it's not a scam it's misleading," says Carri Grube Lybarker, Consumer Affairs administrator.
She says the official-looking nature of the letters may trick some homeowners, especially because some have a Washington, D.C. address, and may include words like "Final Notice."
"You get a copy of your deed whenever you purchase a piece of property," she says. "Whether or not you would need another copy or would need a certified copy, which is what these people are trying to sell consumers, usually only pops up in a specific circumstance. So if you need a copy of your deed, you would know that you would need it because of the particular situation that you're in where it's required. But even if that does pop up, you can go down to your Records of Deeds office and get one for no fee or just the cost of copying the document. And many of the Records of Deeds offices also have this information online, so you may not even need to go down and get a certified copy."
She says the U.S. Postal Inspector's office is investigating, and so are attorneys general in other states.