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Beware of continuous property scam letters

April 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Have you received a letter in the mail saying that you need to have a copy of the grant deed on your property tax? And did the letter say it could get a deed for you if you pay them well over $100? Consumer Specialist Ric Romero says it is one letter you want to put in the trash. Once again, southern California property owners are getting letters in the mail that make them think they need to act quickly and spend a lot of money. Cecelia Lawshe of Tujunga got one.

"My first impression was, 'Oh my god, what is this? Is this for real?' "said Cecelia.

Cecelia's letter, from a company called Title Compliance Office, Records Retrieval Division said property owners should have an official or certified copy of their grant deed. Title Compliance then said they would obtain it for the property owner for $157. But to assure prompt processing they must return the request prior to a deadline. It turns out that Cecelia already has one.

"I found the grant deed and it was done as part of our closing when we closed on the house about 10 to 11 years ago that said Fee: $7," said Cecelia

It's a far cry from $157. In fact, Christopher Habitz, president of the Burbank Realtors Association, says a grant deed is usually given to property owners right after the close of escrow. And if you need one you can get one for free by contacting your title company or for $6 you can get one from the L.A. County Recorder's Office.

"As official as this letter looks, it is absolutely not official," said Habitz.

Several months ago we told you about a letter similar to this one being mailed out about a property tax reassessment. After several reports the state legislature passed a law banning letters that are made to look official like this one.

"They have to put in really big and bold letters, 'This letter has nothing to do with the government or the affiliated with the government," said Assemblyman Ted Lieu.

Fortunately, Cecelia did not send them any of her money.


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