DOBSON — Officials with the Surry County Register of Deeds office are warning residents about a potential scam seeking to gather private information from county residents.
Carolyn Comer, register of deeds for the county, says the scam comes in the form of a letter to property owners requesting money for copies of their land records.
“I’d urge any county citizen receiving such a solicitation to call us or drop by the office with the letter before putting a check in the mail to anyone,” she said. “These are your records, and we’re here to store and safeguard them.”
Comer says she sees the letters as “nothing but an effort to swindle money from unsuspecting county citizens,” and notes that often these scams are from out of state.
“These people come to a state, set up a drop box to receive mail and then send out a deceptive letter to property owners, trying to get them to send a check for $86 in order to receive what they’re calling a Grant Deed and Property Profile,” she said.
While she concedes that the letters look official and appear as though they’re from a legitimate government agency, Comer says that copies of deeds and other property ownership information are held at her office.
“You don’t need to send anyone a check for $80 to $90 to obtain something that’s already available to you here in our office for a tiny fraction of that amount,” she said.
Comer said that the notification looks very official, and often has the ominous indication that the letter is the “final notice.”
“Then in order to receive the documents, you’re required to make out a check payable to the ‘record retrieval department,’ and send it to an address in Raleigh,” she said.
And once the check is sent, much more information is available to fraudulent individuals, Comer added.
“What’s really scary is that once you’ve put that check in the mail, the scammers would not only have your money, but your checking account and bank routing numbers, too,” she said. “Once they have that, along with other personal information that might be on your checks, Lord only knows what they might do with the information.
“One thing I’m sure of,” Comer added, “it wouldn’t be anything good.”