DANVERS — Last week, a resident came to the town clerk’s office to pay what looked like a tax bill that read “Deed Processing Notice.”
“It sort of looks like a tax bill,” Town Clerk Joseph Collins said of the letter, which contained language that indicated “in a roundabout way” that some transfer of the property has taken place.
But it’s not a bill — far from it, actually.
“It’s all a bunch of baloney, it’s a scam,” said Southern Essex Registry of Deeds Register John O’Brien, who said these solicitations crop up every few years and often scare people into sending money to get their deeds, which they can get for free.
The letter reads, “Property Transfer Services recommends that all MA homeowners obtain a copy of their current Grant Deed.” The cost for the service, according to the letter, is $83, and the letter gives a due date of May 17. The deed and “Property Profile” would be received within 21 days.
In an email, Town Manager Wayne Marquis writes that officials are aware that residents have been receiving the notice.
“We are trying to get word out that this is a scam and people should not respond and definitely should not send money,” he said.
The letter does state the “service has not been approved, or endorsed by any government agency.” It also states that it is a “solicitation” and there is no obligation to pay. There is also fine print that says the service is not associated with “any governmental agency.” The fine print also says that one’s deed can be obtained from the country recorder of deeds “for up to $83.”
Collins said residents can get information about their property through the town’s website, where they can obtain real estate assessment information from the Assessing Department. They can also obtain their deed for free online from the Registry of Deeds in Salem at www.salemdeeds.com.
O’Brien said if residents want a free copy of their deed, they can call his office at 978-542-1700. The Registry is located at Shetland Park, 45 Congress St., Suite 4100, Salem.
A person who answered the phone for the Delaware-based Property Transfer Services said a supervisor would get back to a reporter for comment, but the supervisor did not return the call as of Friday afternoon.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.