WRDA Promotes Consumer Protection

The Wisconsin Register of Deeds Assn (WRDA) would like to announce that AB-592 relating to: solicitation of a fee by a business or individual for a public record, granting rule-making authority, and providing a penalty, recently passed and was signed into law by Governor Walker on April 8th, 2014 as ACT 247.

 

The legislation requires non-government agencies to specify there is no requirement to purchase a public record or deed from them, list what government agency does provide that record, and include the pricing of that government agency.  The legislation puts specific perimeters on solicitations that companies can send consumers.

 

Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in deed-processing schemes that target new and existing homeowners.  Homeowners receive official looking notice recommending they obtain a deed and property profile to their home in order to confirm their ownership in the property for a fee that is anywhere between $60 to $90.  Although the practice is legal, it is certainly unethical to use strong language and insinuations to lead customers to believe they must pay a large sum to get copies of their documents, when in reality it costs just a few dollars.

 

Most homeowners should have received the original deed when they purchased their property.  If not, they can obtain a copy through their Register of Deed’s office for a minimal fee of $2 or $3 depending on the number of pages.  Fees are governed by Wisconsin State Statute 59.43(2)(b).  In addition, anyone can come into a Register of Deeds office and look at public real estate records for free.

The same situation is also occurring from companies wanting to assist consumers in obtaining copies of a birth certificate.  Companies have the consumer fill out the standard state vital records request form and then charge the standard state fees of $20 plus an additional $69 “service” fee.


The Register of Deeds offices do not send out solicitations for real estate or vital records.  If you ever receive a letter offering to assist you in obtaining copies of your real estate records or birth certificate, please stop by your county Register of Deeds office or give them a call, they will be glad to help. 

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