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Erie County warns of deed scam

BUFFALO — Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz cautioned all Erie County property owners to watch for misleading solicitations offering to sell you a “Certified Copy of Your Deed.” The company issuing such notices is titled New York Record Retrieval, Inc. and is overcharging homeowners for this service by as much as 1,000 percent.

“I want to inform the citizens of Erie County that the entities marketing such requests are not at all related to the county clerk’s office, or any other department inside Erie County government,” Jacobs said. “If you receive one of these letters, you should disregard it. A certified copy of your deed is always available from the county clerk’s office.”

“Property owners need to be constantly on guard, against solicitations such as these, which charge an exorbitant fee to provide a service that county government does, for a small fraction of the cost,” said Poloncarz. “It’s easy to miss the fine print on these scams, and I’m pleased to join clerk Jacobs in raising property owners’ awareness about them.”

The solicitation looks like an official government notice, contains public information about the property and instructs the property owner to include payment of $69.50 or more. Upon payment, the citizen gets a copy of their current deed. According to the letter an additional $20 can be enclosed, for a second certified copy.

“They are misleading property owners into paying an excessive amount, for a record they can easily obtain for 1/10th the cost. This is a disingenuous way to conduct business,” Jacobs said. “The clerk’s office is the only place to obtain a certified copy of their deed.”

Poloncarz added, “Residents need to know that the clerk’s office is here to help them, at a fraction of the cost they would incur, from one of these solicitations. I urge all property owners not to reply to these scams and to throw such solicitations away. These are attempts by unscrupulous firms looking to gouge property owners with unnecessary costs.”

“Deeds for every parcel of land in Erie County are recorded and maintained on permanent record at the county clerk’s Office,” Jacobs noted. “Once placed on record and processed, the original deed is returned to the property owner or their attorney.”

Jacobs asked residents to contact his office for assistance with any deed-related questions. Certified copies can be easily obtained directly from the Erie County Clerk’s Office at Old County Hall, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY 14202.

Property owners may also request a copy by mail and include their names, property addresses and phone numbers, or by submitting the deed request form found on the clerk’s website www.erie.gov/clerk/deedrequest, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check or money order made payable to the Erie County Clerk.

For more information about the Erie County Clerk’s Office, call 858-8785, e-mail ErieCountyClerkOffice@erie.gov or visit the clerk’s website at www.erie.gov/clerk.
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