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In 2007 a client brought to my attention a letter that she’d received, questioning its authenticity.  I immediately notified all my clients not to fall for the letter if they received it in the mail.  It was a legal, but misleading and unnecessary enterprise being sold as a vital homeowner protection.

Cut to 2009, when another person, not a client of mine in 2007, questioned the same letter she had just received. I was able to quickly e-mail her a “don’t fall for it!” response by cutting and pasting from my “sent” files.

As times are even tougher in the real estate business now than they were in 2007 I guess I cannot blame the service by trying again to make homeowners uneasy that they lack certain documentation, which they boast can be retrieved and supplied by the enterprising company for under $60.  But any owner that gets ripped off shares a certain amount of culpability for not thinking it through and/or contacting their attorney.

Here’s the e-mail I sent to all the clients in my address book back in the spring of 2007:

A client has brought to my attention a scam letter that is being sent around to owners of homes.  I use "scam" not in the fraudulent sense, but in the sense that the "service" offered is unnecessary and the wording most misleading.  To my knowledge, there is nothing illegal about this letter, but it is something you should toss the moment you get it.

This letter states your address, date of recording of your deed, and advises you that the government "recommends that property owners should have an official or certified copy of their deed....[as] this document provides a record that your property was transferred to you."

The cost for the letter writer's services?  Only $59.50.

Now, here's the facts:

1)  All deed transfers are public records (which is how the retrieval service got the info in the first place) so you don't have to independently prove your ownership;
2)  All my clients always get their original deeds back for safekeeping;
3)  I keep copies if you ever misplace your deed and need a copy;
4)  The County Clerk charges an average price of $5.00 at present to provide you with a certified copy of your deed if you really want one.

I note with interest that the fee for the service hasn’t gone up since 2007.  $60 must be some break point the service doesn’t want to approach or exceed.  But the re-emergence of the letter got me to thinking if there was a way I could send around such a letter myself and generate revenue supplying useless public information.  I’m thinking of this approach:

Dear Homeowner,

The current economic mess we find ourselves in has made many citizens feel impoverished and powerless.  If you still can afford telephone and/or internet services, or the price of stamps, why sit back and do nothing?  We at Empowered Taxpayers Services will provide you with a personalized bundle of names, snail and e-mail addresses and phone numbers for your local, state, and federal representatives, along with the best ways to reach the President and the Secretary of the Treasury.  And since your well-being and opportunity to speak out is our uppermost concern, we are providing, at no additional expense to you, the names, snail and e-mail addresses and phone numbers for the heads of all the banking institutions receiving TARP money, the presidents of GMAC and Chrysler, and all the Federal Reserve Bank presidents.  This is vital information made available through Empowered Taxpayers Services resources.

The cost to you for all of our individualized research and a customized, extensive directory of the information you need to reach the decisions makers? Only $52.50, pre-paid.

Don’t wait!  Others will obtain this information, and have their voices heard.  You cannot afford to be left behind!

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
casey492
Feb. 19th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
Very good, do you want that $52.50 in a bank check, money order or cash? ;)
real_lawyer
Feb. 19th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
;-D
Save your money! Friends don't charge friends for free information. Well, most friends...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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