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The Plain English Attorney

[Below is a reprint of a previously published article, but the situation keeps coming up. Considering my clients keep getting what they think are bills, it’s worth periodically sending this out.]

Unfortunately, this is now happening on a consistent basis. Some of our clients are being targeted in a deed scam. I’m not talking about a swindle where our clients are losing their property, but something much simpler and smaller. Once our clients create a revocable trust and use a quitclaim deed to move their real estate into the trust, or when our existing trust clients deed a new parcel of property into their trust, they receive what appears to be a tax bill for $95.


The mailing looks similar to county real estate tax bills, containing information on the real estate including name of the trust, the address, and other identifying information. (See a sample attached here.) The layout of the mailing looks like the same property tax bills many North Carolinians receive every August, but the cost (we have seen) is only $95. Some of our clients are simply assuming it is a filing fee related to the recent deed being recorded. Unfortunately, some people’s eyes glaze over the small print in a few places stating that it is an advertisement for a real estate report and not an actual bill, and they simply pay it. A week or so later, they’ll receive some printouts regarding the tax bill payment history, a copy of the deed, and a few other items.

Regrettably, these are all just printouts from publicly available, online resources that probably take less than five minutes to assemble and mail. Fortunately, many of our clients have seen through this deception and have called us to ask about it. If you receive something that looks like a bill related to your property, please check the wording carefully to make sure it is, in fact, a bill from a government agency and not an advertisement from a private company. There is no need to have these reports, especially since you can gather this information on your own through public, online, government resources.

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