Official-looking notice tries to collect money for free services

Official-looking notice tries to collect money for free services

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James Crabtree (right) and his uncle, Jack Carroll, have been homeowners in Scott County for years. James Crabtree (right) and his uncle, Jack Carroll, have been homeowners in Scott County for years.
There was a disclaimer in the top corner of the letter saying that Property Transfer Service is not a government agency, which is true. There was a disclaimer in the top corner of the letter saying that Property Transfer Service is not a government agency, which is true.
"Then it goes on to say that people can obtain a copy of their grant or deed or other record of title from the county recorder," Cory Crabtree said about the letter. "Then it goes on to say that people can obtain a copy of their grant or deed or other record of title from the county recorder," Cory Crabtree said about the letter.
"Maybe a lot of elderly people may go ahead and send the money in without questioning anything, and it is money they don't need to be spending," said Scott County Register of Deeds Benjie Rector. "Maybe a lot of elderly people may go ahead and send the money in without questioning anything, and it is money they don't need to be spending," said Scott County Register of Deeds Benjie Rector.
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By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

HUNTSVILLE (WATE) - A public office often called the "land library" is the register of deeds. It's the office where public records and documents are recorded and maintained.

The register of deeds or recorder's office handles the filing and recordings of documents. That includes such things as mortgages, land contracts, and real estate transactions, to name a few.

The information kept at the office is public record.

The Scott County register of deeds is warning residents about a notice sent to hundreds of people over the last few weeks.

An out-of-state company wants to get your money when you don't have to spend a dime to receive the information.

James Crabtree and his uncle, Jack Carroll, have been homeowners in Scott County for years.

They were confused a few weeks ago about a strange notice they each received in the mail.

"I thought it was real," Crabtree said. "Sure did because it says Property Transfer Services. And the letter, it looked like the real thing."

"I thought it was real too," Carroll added. "That is, until I got to reading it more there."

What the two men read in the official-looking letter sent by a legitimate company out of Wilmington, Del. is that they could receive a copy of their deed and complete property profile for a fee.

"They want $83 for me to send to them," Crabtree said.

"I took a good look at it and it raised some red flags for me," said Cory Crabtree, who is a nephew to both men.

The men had showed the letter to him hoping to get some clarification.

"It is a company in Wilmington, Del. wanting to purchase a deed in Scott County, Tenn. So that was one red flag," Cory said.

There was a disclaimer in the top corner of the letter saying that Property Transfer Service is not a government agency, which is true.

"Then it goes on to say that people can obtain a copy of their grant or deed or other record of title from the county recorder, from the county where the property is located, for up to $83," Cory said. "That is deceptive, because you can go right out here to Benjie Rector, the register of deeds in Scott County, and get it for free."

"A lot of people might not be aware of what they are telling you in that," Rector noted.

Rector recently put a warning in the local paper for residents who may have received the notice from Property Transfer Services.

"Some people may think that this may be a requirement, that you are required to do this," Rector said. "Maybe a lot of elderly people may go ahead and send the money in without questioning anything, and it is money they don't need to be spending."

James Crabtree and Jack Carroll say they have their nephew, Cory, to thank, for saving them some money.

As for that letter, it is going in the trash.

"Don't send them any $83," James said.

Other register of deeds offices in East Tennessee have told 6 On Your Side that people in their counties have also received a letter from that Wilmington, Delaware company.


You can see Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports every Monday and Wednesday on 6 News at 5:00.

If you have a consumer question, send Don an email atddare@wate.com or call his 6 On Your Side Hotline at (865) 633-5974.

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