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May 4, 2013

State files lawsuit over alleged misleading deed solicitation

Mailers to Floyd County residents ask for money for document which is public record

NEW ALBANY — Though it’s not the company that targeted several Floyd County residents recently, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed a lawsuit against a business for allegedly sending mailers offering copies of property deeds for “exorbitant fees.”

Zoeller filed for an injunction in Allen County Superior Court last month against Illinois Deed Provider Inc., which the state claims sent mailers to property owners offering to provide copies of their deeds for $59.50.

Property deeds are public records and can typically be obtained through county offices for a nominal cost which is typically about $1 per page, according to the attorney general’s office.

“The solicitations mimic government legal documents which mislead consumers into believing they need a copy of their property deed,” Zoeller said in a statement. “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.”

Floyd County Recorder Lois Endris raised concerns last year about a similar solicitation being offered to local residents from a company listed as Record Retrieval Department on mailers provided by her office. Record Retrieval Department was offering copies of property deeds for $87, and the mailers cited that the cost would rise by $35 if the copies weren’t purchased by a certain date.

Erin Reece, a spokeswoman with the attorney general’s office, said the Record Retrieval Department is believed to be a separate company from the one facing a lawsuit. However she added there’s an ongoing investigation by the state into Record Retrieval Department, and she advised any resident who receives a mailer from the company to file a complaint with the attorney general’s office.

Endris said her office hasn’t received any complaints about Record Retrieval Department in the last 30 days.

“Usually when they go after one, it will alert the others and they’ll stop what they’re doing,” she said.

There hasn’t been a ruling yet in the case filed against Illinois Deed Provider. The state is seeking an injunction prohibiting the company from sending out additional notices to consumers, as well as consumer restitution, civil penalties and investigative costs.

If you have received a mailer you believe to be a false solicitation, you can report it to the attorney general’s office online at indianaconsumer.com, or by calling 1-800-382-5516.

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