Record Transfer Services

June 15th, 2015

Despite its very official-looking nature, this letter a reader alerted TINA.org about that calls for payment in exchange for a copy of a landowner’s grant deed — among other promised documents — does not come from the government. Nor does it constitute an actual bill — even though it suggests that payment is required with its “document fee” of $83 and its advisory to consumers to “pay by phone” by a certain deadline.

Record Transfer Services mailing

In truth, all this letter amounts to is a solicitation from a company, Record Transfer Services, which as of this writing holds an F rating with the BBB, and was ordered to refund consumers after Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller alleged that the California-based company misled residents on the need to pay for the documents.

In a March 2015 press release, the Iowa Attorney General’s office said:

… homeowners do not generally need to have such records on hand, and in any event could obtain them from a local county recorder’s website or office at little or no charge. While the mailings contained disclaimers that the company was not a government entity … the overall design was to trick consumers into making what appeared to be mandated payments.

The recent mailing from the company that our reader sent in (a section of which is extracted above) states toward the bottom of the first page that, “This is not a bill. This is a solicitation…” A disclaimer on the second page further reveals:

Records are available at your local county recorder for a nominal fee; however you will need to go to the county recorder’s office in person.

We would recommend taking that trip. Or take the attorney general’s advice and check to see if copies of the records are available online. Whatever you do, don’t overpay for something that Record Transfer Services admits can be obtained “for a nominal fee.”

Official-looking mail can be deceiving. Be wary of unsolicited mail that seeks payment. Find more of our coverage on the topic here.

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