County clerks statewide are warning tornado victims not to be taken in by mail solicitations from companies offering to obtain and sell them copies of their property deeds.
The deeds will be provided free to victims of the recent storms, said Cleveland County Clerk Tammy Belinson. All other property owners can obtain copies of their real estate records for nominal fees.
Belinson said several residents have brought her copies of letters from a company called Property Transfer Services of Thousand Oaks, Calif., that prompts homeowners to obtain property records. The company then offers to provide the records for a processing fee of $83.
“This is a waste of money, and in my opinion, a total scam on the part of this company,” Belinson said.
The county clerk said she will provide the same records free to any tornado victim. Other property owners who need a copy of their deeds are charged $1 for a regular copy or $3 for a certified copy.
Companies that solicit customers through the mail by offering to obtain records for homeowners for substantial fees are an ongoing problem, Belinson said. “But it's a particular problem right now as many property owners are needing copies of their deeds for insurance purposes because of losses suffered in the recent tornadoes.”
“I find it particularly distressing that companies would prey on people at a time like this,” she said.
Oklahoma County Clerk Carolyn Caudill recalled a similar problem that happened in the aftermath of the May 3, 1999, tornado that hit Moore.
“While no one has brought a letter like this to our attention this time round, I expect there may be some circulating. I would certainly warn residents not to pay that kind of fee for a service we would gladly provide for free,” Caudill said.