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New law to protect against deed solicitation

Posted Thursday, August 21, 2014 --- 9:06 p.m.

Despite a new law to stop them, companies are continuing to send out misleading solicitations, trying to overcharge you for government documents you could easily get on your own.

If you recently bought a home, you may have received one of these letters offering to send you a copy of your deed for 89 dollars. The letter doesn't state that you can easily obtain a copy of your deed from your local register of deeds office, for just a few dollars.

"It's 89 dollars! To me, that's a lot of money," said Marilyn McWilliams, who received one of the letters last month.

McWilliams said she initially thought the letter was informing her she had to pay the amount to get her deed.

"I was really upset, my blood pressure was going up, I could feel it," she said.

In April, a new law went into effect making it easier for consumers to know when a government document is real and when it's just a solicitation.

"This piece of legislation goes right to the heart of putting people out of business who really should not be soliciting for such an exorbitant amount of money for a simple deed," said State Rep. Gary Hebl (D- Sun Prairie).

Letters offering to sell copies of government documents must now contain the following disclosures:

- Must state in 24-point type that it is not from a government office and that no action is required
- Must provide contact information for the official government source where the record can be obtained and the actual cost of obtaining the record from that source

Sandy Chalmers, Administrator for Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said the law is a necessary step for protecting consumers.

"It's really good for consumers because it gives them the information they need to make a good decision," Chalmers said.

People who receive these letters are encouraged to report it to DATCP, so the companies can be held accountable. To report a letter, you can call 800-422-7128 or send an email to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov.


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