Washington County Register of Deeds Teresa Bowman has an urgent message to local residents warning them of companies offering costly deed and title services that her office provides for a much lower rate.
“This has got to stop,” Bowman said. “They are trying to take advantage of our veterans.”
Additionally, Bowman advises to be cautious of radio and TV advertisements promising to monitor their vital information for a fee — or claiming to sell them expensive copies of their deed and title information.
“Please be aware that you may be contacted by private companies to provide you a copy of your deed for a much higher fee than may be obtained from our office,” Bowman explained.
In terms of recording the veterans’ discharge papers, Bowman said all one needs to do is bring their discharge papers to the Washington County Register of Deeds and they will record them for free, scan them, and give them back their original.
“The discharge record is the only record that is not made public since Social Security numbers are on it. The Register of Deeds also offers a free, property fraud alert program,” Bowman noted. “Scam companies are out there trying to charge $80-$100 for a property monitoring service that my office provides to all Washington County citizens for free.”
According to Bowman, an elderly resident recently gave the scammers $80 before checking with the Register of Deeds.
“I wish she had called us first. That’s a lot of money for someone on a fixed income, and it’s getting worse,” Bowman said. “If you stop by and sign up with our office, we will provide you alerts free, anytime anyone records anything in your name.”
Bowman continued that the scammers get away with this because of the fine print found at the bottom of their documents. The highest price a citizen will pay the county is a $1 per-page copy fee.
Washington County Veterans Service Officer Dawn Lucier said her office is glad to work with local veterans advising them of their many, free benefits.
“Beware when it comes to scammers,” Lucier warned. “Some of them say ‘we’ve got your six’ but they do not have your back. They actually charge to file claims that we provide as a free-of-charge service.”
Lucier added that the main question veterans should ask of any organization is, “Are they accredited through the V.A.?”
“If they are accredited, they will be glad to show proof,” she said. “The county is happy to provide free services to veterans because ultimately it is a ‘win-win.’ The veterans are served, and the local economy benefits when veterans go out and spend money in restaurants and area businesses.”