Register of deeds warns Johnston County residents of misleading solicitation letters

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JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. (WNCN) – The register of deeds is warning Johnston County residents about a solicitation letter being sent out.

Craig Olive said people are getting letters asking for money from a company that will supply deeds, but the company is charging a significant amount of money for something that should only cost but a few cents.

Every deed ever recorded ends up in the hands of local government. 

Up until modern times, the records were kept on paper in vaults — like the one in the Johnston County Courthouse — that belong to the register of deeds.

Now, computers make that search a lot easier. Olive said a company wants people to pay more than they should for that information.

The company, Property Profile Inc. of Glendora, California, has been sending unsolicited letters to people in Johnston County.

The official-looking “recorded deed notice” asks for $86 to obtain a “property assessment profile” and “complimentary” deed.

“They’re just tricking people,” Olive said.

He added that the deeds the company offers are publicly available, along with other property records. The registrar said people who want any kind of copy don’t need to pay $86.

Olive said online access to deeds is free. Anyone who wants a copy can print it out at home. An email is free.

Olive said his office can print out a copy for 10 cents a page. With the average deed running no more than three pages, Olive said that’s a total cost of 30 cents.

He said if his office prints a certified copy, “It’ll cost you no more than $10.” Olive added the deed the company provides to consumers isn’t even a certified copy. It’s just a plain copy.

The registrar said he’s gotten a lot of complaints about these deed solicitation letters.

Nationwide, the Better Business Bureau has received 27 complaints about the company — including 11 this year alone — about the way Property Profile solicits fees for materials that can be obtained for free online.

In response to one of those complaints to the BBB, the company said the $86 fee “offers an approximately 30-page property report called a ‘Property Assessment Profile’ and complimentary deed.”

It also said, ”The government does not provide this type of report…if a homeowner does not want or need our service, they should simply disregard our solicitation letter.”

Olive said those selling their house should have a real estate lawyer take care of securing the proper deed and other materials. He also asked for anyone who receives these solicitation letters to call his office.

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