Yakima County elected officials are warning residents to avoid a come-on from a company with an Olympia address that offers to provide them a copy of their property deed for $89.
Deeds are available from the county Auditor’s Office for $1 per page.
Treasurer Ilene Thomson, Assessor Dave Cook and Auditor Corky Mattingly said the service offered by a firm called Local Records Office is unnecessary and should be ignored.
Cook said he fears some residents, primarily the elderly, will feel obligated to send a check to the company.
Thomson said she became aware of the letter Thursday when a property owner brought in a copy and asked about its legitimacy.
“It’s a scam because they are charging $89 for it. It’s unfortunate because people don’t read the letter. They feel they have to get a copy of their deed,” she said.
Thomson said she will forward a copy of the letter to the consumer protection division of the state Attorney General’s Office.
Janelle Guthrie, communications director for Attorney General Bob Ferguson, said the office has received similar inquiries from 20 people elsewhere in the state. She advised residents to check with their county government when they need documents.
“You should never have to pay a third party for government documents,” she said in a voice mail message in response to an inquiry.
A woman reached by telephone Thursday, who identified herself as the Olympia firm’s customer service manager, said a service is being offered to property owners and acknowledged the same information is available from the county Auditor’s Office or a title company. She declined to disclose how many of the letters the firm sent to property owners in Yakima County.
The legal-sized letter does include some property information that, in this case, is outdated but carries the proper document number assigned by the Auditor’s Office when the deed was recorded.
The letter includes disclaimers that the firm is not a government agency and that deeds can be obtained from a title company or the county auditor.
Cook said the letter is a blatant attempt to take advantage of unsuspecting property owners.
• David Lester can be reached at 509-577-7674 or firstname.lastname@example.org.