AG: Misleading property deed offers lead to state lawsuit

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind (WOWO):  Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a lawsuit today against Illinois Deed Provider, Inc. The company is accused of using government-like mailings to offer copies of property deeds for expensive fees.

Illinois Deed Provider, Inc. sent mailers to property owners offering certified copies of deeds for $59.50 and an additional copy for $20. Property deeds – which are usually one to two pages – are public records and county recorders can provide copies for free or at a nominal cost, often times a $1 per page.

 “The solicitations mimic government legal documents which mislead consumers into believing they need a copy of their property deed,” Zoeller says. “Homeowners are not required to have copies even when they go to sell a property and they can obtain these documents from their county recorder’s office at little or no cost.”

According to the lawsuit filed in Allen County Superior Court, the company’s notices contained the property owner’s name, address, property deed document number and county recorder’s information. Interested persons would fill out the form and return it with a check, money order or credit card information. Zoeller said this is the first lawsuit his office has filed against this type of business.

The state alleges the company violated the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act and the Deceptive Commercial Solicitation Act. Zoeller’s office seeks an injunction, consumer restitution, civil penalties and investigative costs.

“Hoosiers have enough to consider when they purchase a home. In the midst of a flurry of paperwork and expensive decisions, this official-sounding solicitation arrives, seeming like yet another thing a buyer is required to do,” said Allen County Recorder John McGauley. “Recorders across Indiana have long felt the National Deed Service offer is exorbitant and misleading. We thank Attorney General Zoeller for the opportunity to settle the question once and for all.”

The Attorney General’s office also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the company which would prohibit it from sending these notices to consumers pending a final judgment by the court.