PITTSFIELD -- Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. has asked the state Attorney General's office to stop a Washington, D.C.-based company from advertising to provide copies of deeds at exorbitant prices.
Nuciforo alerted the AG's office after a Pittsfield resident received a letter from a firm known as Secured Document that offered to provide her a copy of her deed and a complete property profile for $83.
Anyone can obtain copies of their deeds at the registry for $1 a page or access that information for free online at www.masslandrecords.com.
Nuciforo referred to Secured Document's request as a "scam of the worst order" in the letter that he sent to the office. He said another constituent also received a similar request from the same company.
"Any company that's trying to extract $83 for something that costs someone a few dollars strikes me as a scam," he said in a telephone interview.
In his letter to Public Protection Bureau Chief Christopher Barry-Smith, Nuciforo asked the AG's office to investigate Secured Document and issue a "cease and desist order" to stop them from sending out mailings.
"I wanted to bring this to the attention of the attorney general and her staff," he said.
In 2010, Nuciforo had also asked the state office to take similar action against another company known as National Record Services Inc. that was also sending
"I don't know if any action was taken," he said. "But I do know that we didn't see another notice from that company."
The AG's office has received Nuciforo's letter, and it is under review, said spokesman Christopher Loh.
Loh said the office hasn't fielded any other "complaints to our consumer hotline about Secured Document."
Efforts to reach Secured Document were unsuccessful.
However, a taped message left on an extension on the company's telephone line stated that Secure Documents "is not a mandatory service," and that those who do not wish to comply with the firm's requests should "trash" them.
Secured Document is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is also the street where the White House is located. But in printed materials and taped telephone messages, the company states that it is not affiliated with the county a grant deed was filed in, or with "any government agencies," and that its product or service "has not been approved or endorsed" by an agency of the government.
The company describes itself as "an analysis and retrieval firm that uses multiple resources that provide supporting values, deeds and evidence that is used to execute property reports and deliver requested deed."
Complaints regarding similar requests from Secured Document apparently have also been reported in Pennsylvania and California.
In August, Secured Document told a reporter from a San Francisco television station that it offered its services as a "convenience for customers."
"It can be difficult to find time to stand in line at the county recorder's office. We are just an alternative source for getting the deed," the company said.