Spin Control

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2011, 4 P.M.

Undoing the deed: Company settles over misleading mailers

OLYMPIA – A California company accused of misleading people into buying overpriced copies of their deeds has signed an agreement with the state Attorney General's office to refund the money and stop the practice.

The “State Records Retrieval Board” sent notices to an estimated 5,000 Washington residents last year, urging them to buy a copy of their property deeds for $87 by a certain date, or pay a $35 fee if they missed that deadline. The state’s Consumer Protection office began investigating after complaints from Eastern Washington, and later issued a warning about the mailings.

The state has no such board; the Olympia address it listed was a mail drop box at a mall. The mailings were from a California company owned by Neil Camenker, which sent similar notices around the country.

On Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Jack Zurlini announced a settlement in which the company will reimburse 45 Washington residents totaling $3,915, pay state legal costs and face a civil penalty if they don’t comply with restrictions on their business practices.

“The notices were deceptive junk mail designed to trick people into something they don’t need,” Zurlini said in a prepared statement announcing the settlement. A copy of a deed can be obtained from a county auditor for about $10, he added.

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