A nationwide scheme for squeezing money out of unsuspecting consumers has raised its ugly head in Hawaii. New real estate owners and individuals who have recently transferred their homes into their revocable living trusts are receiving letters from a company calling itself "Property Transfer Services." The letters warn the recipients of the importance of having copies of deeds to their real estate, and give the recipients a deadline to send in $83.00 for a copy of their deeds. The letters are official-looking enough to fool people into spending money on documents that they can get for free or for far less than $83.00.
If you receive one of these letters, you can safely ignore it. Nothing bad will happen to you or your home if you do not send in the $83.00. What Property Transfer Services is doing is not necessarily illegal, but it has deceived some of our clients into thinking they had to get a check in the mail right away. Fortunately, the clients contacted us, and we were able to clear the matter up without our clients getting fleeced.
It is anyone's guess how many people just send in the $83.00. Please don't fall for this. If you receive one of these letters, throw it away. If you are nervous about doing that, call your lawyer or your realtor and see what they advise. You can also contact your local office of consumer protection. In Hawaii, the URL for the State Office of Consumer Protection is http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/, and the phone number is 808-587-4272.