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Union County Clerk Warns Property Owners: Don't Be a Victim of Property Deed Scam

County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi warns home owners in the County of Union and owners of commercial property in the county to beware of people who offer to sell them a certified copy of the deed to their property.

“I have been alerted that Union County residents have been contacted by a company in California called Record Transfer Services that offers to sell property owners a copy of their deed,” said County Clerk Rajoppi. “These offers look very official, but they are not necessary. Don’t be fooled. Normally, you or your attorney already have a copy of your deed.”

“It is advisable to have a copy of your deed stored safely with your other important documents,” continued Clerk Rajoppi. “But if you misplace or lose your deed, you can readily obtain a certified copy from my Office usually for less than $20. Scam artists are charging $83 or more for the same deed. The price for a certified deed is mandated by the state and is a per-page fee.”

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If you can’t find your deed, call the Office of the Union County Clerk at 908-527-4787; visit the website: clerk.ucnj.org; or go directly to the County Clerk’s Office where you can easily and quickly obtain a certified copy of your deed for the nominal, state-mandated fee: $8 for the first page and $2 for subsequent pages. You do not have to go to the County Clerk’s office to obtain a certified copy of your deed. And there is no need to go through a middle-man who charges an exorbitant fee for this service.

In 2007, Ms. Rajoppi filed a formal complaint with the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, citing the solicitation of homeowners to purchase a deed at an exorbitant, excessive cost. Consumers who receive solicitations to buy a deed are invited to contact the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 973-504-6200 or 800-242-5846 to file a complaint.

In response to concerns raised by County Clerk Rajoppi and her County Clerk colleagues throughout New Jersey, a bill is pending in the State Legislature to regulate deed procurement services. The legislation is Senate Bill S1635 sponsored by State Senator Shirley K. Turner.

This bill requires non-governmental entities providing deed procurement services to make certain disclosures when soliciting clients. The disclosures include prominently displaying the address and telephone number of the appropriate County Clerk’s office through which the recipient could obtain a copy of the deed directly; the state-authorized per-page fee; a disclaimer that the recipient is not legally required to use the services of the non-governmental entity; and that County Clerk’s offices must receive a copy of the deed solicitation letter at least 15 days before the letter is distributed to property owners.  

Property owners are advised to be wary of people purporting to sell “actual” deeds. Only the County Clerk’s Office has the recorded copy of your property deed. The Union County Clerk is responsible for recording, filing and preserving all property transactions occurring within the county. She maintains copies of all documents since 1857 on file in the Record Room, which is open to the public for reference and study.

For further information, call the Office of the Union County Clerk at 908-527-4787, or visit the website: www.ucnj.org/government/county-clerk. The Union County Clerk’s Office is located in the Union County Courthouse at 2 Broad Street, Elizabeth, New Jersey 07207.

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