Editor's Note: The following is a news release issued by the Mercer County Clerk's Office.
Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello is again alerting all Mercer County homeowners about a direct mail solicitation from a private company offering to provide them with a certified copy of their deed at a cost of $84.
The name of the company listed on the envelope and letterhead of the solicitation is either National Deed Service, Secured Document Company or Conveyance Transfer Services, with a Washington DC, return address, and a toll-free number.
The letter, being sent under an official-looking “open immediately” envelope, advises property owners that their deed is recorded by the county clerk and leads the recipient to believe a certified copy of the deed is necessary.
The company instructs homeowners, as it did in similar mailings throughout the past two years, to pay an $84 fee to obtain a certified copy of their property deed.
“The fee is excessive since the county clerk’s office provides this as a public service for a minimal cost,” said Sollami Covello.
Mercer County homeowners may obtain a certified copy of their recorded deed, at anytime, at their convenience, directly from the Mercer County Clerk’s Office for the cost of only $1.50 per page and a certification charge of $10.
“Be warned. No homeowner owner needs to pay excessive fees to a private company for a certified copy of their deed. It is regretful that a company would prey upon unknowing, financially overburdened homeowners, especially during this difficult economy, by offering a service that already exists at the Mercer County Clerk’s office for low cost,” stated Sollami Covello.
The bogus mail solicitations are so wide spread in the region that Sollami Covello has once herself received a solicitation at her own household.
The swindlers utilize the public’s right to land ownership data and have covered themselves by working within a narrow framework of the law.
The Mercer County Office of Consumer Affairs and the County Clerks throughout New Jersey have been successful in forcing the companies to disclose it is not a government agency and such records are available free or at nominal cost.
Clerk Sollami Covello has worked with local state legislators to draft a bill that subjects these companies to criminal penalties if they fail to meet certain disclosure and registration requirements. The New Jersey Constitutional Officers Association supports the pending legislation.
The Mercer County Clerk’s Office files and records all documents concerning real estate ownership, mortgages, and transfers. Homeowners interested in obtaining a certified copy of their deed in person at the Mercer County Clerk’s Office should go to the Courthouse Annex at 209 S. Broad St., in Trenton, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Homeowners who cannot go to the Clerk’s Office in person may send a letter of request to the County Clerk’s Office, but are advised to first call the Recording Section of the Mercer County Clerk’s Office at (609) 989-6464 and provide their complete property address, purchase date and lot and block number if available, along with the full name of the owner so that they can be properly advised as to the appropriate payment information and mailing instructions.
Complaints regarding the direct mail solicitation can be made to the Mercer County Division of Consumer Affairs by calling (609) 989-6671.