A pitch by a California firm to sell local property owners copies of deeds is "misleading at the very least," Delaware County Recorder Melissa Jordan says.
Jordan said her office began receiving reports in late June that a business known as Record Transfer Services had sent letters to Delaware County residents.
In the letters, the company offered to provide copies of property deeds and a "property assessment profile" to local residents for $83.
Property owners in Delaware County can get uncertified copies of their deeds from the recorder's office for 5 cents per page or certified copies for $2 per page. Most deeds are three pages long, according to the office.
Jordan said the letters seem to be targeted at people who recently transferred or received a transfer of property.
The letters contain information related to the specific parcels that were recently transferred.
"It could seem very legitimate to someone who is transferring property for the first time," Jordan said.
Property transfers are a matter of public record and information about transfers can easily be obtained.
Jordan said she was careful to stop short of calling the mailings "illegal" or a "scam."
"The legality of it is something I'll leave up to the attorney general and others," she said. "It's still something that's misleading at the very least."
Jordan said a similar mailer was sent out to property owners in multiple central Ohio counties in 2012 by a different firm.
Although Delaware County is the first to report this new mailer, Jordan said she's "sure it's happening in other counties."
Unlike previous letters offering copies of deeds for sale, the current mailing has disclaimers informing recipients the letter is not from a county or state office.
"This particular letter makes it more explicit that it's an offer and it's not related (to) any government agency," she said.
Jordan said on first glance, however, the letter could be mistaken as an official government document.
She said residents should know once a deed is filed with a county recorder's office, it creates a permanent record that protects the owners' property rights.
Landowners do not need to have physical copies of deeds in their possession to ensure their rights, Jordan said.
Deeds can be viewed online or in person through the recorder's office.