Press-Republican

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September 19, 2013

Property-deed-sales ripoff invades Clinton County

PLATTSBURGH — An apparently legal but misleading pitch to take money from property owners is once again invading Clinton County.

County Clerk John Zurlo said residents have notified him recently that they have been contacted by companies offering to provide property deeds for them at a cost of $83 per document.

The same deed can be obtained at the Clerk’s Office for just a $5 fee.

“They send people letters saying how important it is for them to have a copy of their deed handy, and they offer to get it for them for that exorbitant price,” Zurlo explained.

“Then they just come here and buy the deed for $5 and send it to them.”

Zurlo said the maneuver is legal, but in his view not exactly ethical.

“They are probably meeting the laws, but they really are cheating people,” he said.

“They especially are targeting elderly people.”

PRICE INCREASE

There are at least three different companies that Zurlo knows of that are sending people letters about deeds.

He said normally it is not necessary for property owners to have a deed handy at their home or in a bank security box.

“If they need one, they can come down here and get one at a moment’s notice,” he said.

A similar situation occurred in the summer of 2011, when many homeowners in the county received letters warning them of the importance of having a deed. The companies charged $59.50 for one copy or $79 for two then.

“The prices went up, so it must be lucrative for them,” Zurlo said.

The deed sales pitch has hit other counties across the state, he said, adding that he has heard from other county clerks about it.

Anyone seeking more information or wanting a deed can contact Zurlo’s office at 565-4701.

Email Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

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