Clerk of Courts warns against mailer charging for official records

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Dozens of St. Johns County residents have contacted the Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller’s office with concerns about a recent mailer from a company charging steep fees for a copy of their official recorded deed.

St. Johns County Clerk Brandon J. Patty said the misleading mailer is from County Records Office, LLC, a Tampa-based company not affiliated with the government.

Per the recent letter sent to residents, the company charges $89 to obtain an official copy of a recorded deed. If you have received the letter, note the name of St. Johns County is misspelled (St John), and the disclaimer on the front of the letter that reads, “This is a solicitation for the order of goods or services and not a bill. You are under no obligation to make payments on account of this offer unless you accept this offer.”

“These types of sketchy solicitations prey on property owners who aren’t aware that they can access many county official record documents, such as recorded deeds and other land documents, directly through their Clerk of Courts and County Comptroller’s office,” Patty said. “Don’t be deceived into paying exorbitant fees for official records that are available for a few dollars or for free through our office.”

Through the clerk’s office, a certified copy of a recorded deed comes with a small fee, while non-certified records are generally free of charge and often available on the clerk’s website.

When customers need certified copies of documents to prove authenticity — such as wills, divorce decrees, marriage licenses or satisfaction of mortgage documents — they can obtain them securely 24-hours-a-day through the clerk’s E-Certify webpage, stjohnsclerk.com/ecertify, for a nominal fee. The fee includes statutorily required per-page fees, a $2 certification fee, $6-per-document vendor fees and credit card fees. However, by downloading and saving the document, it can be printed and reprinted as many times as desired.

To avoid paying the online vendor and credit card fees, customers can visit the courthouse to obtain certified records and simply pay the per-page cost and a $2 certification fee. 

Also through the clerk’s office, non-certified copies of court documents and official records are available online for free. Go to stjohnsclerk.com/online-research/ to access official records, Board of County Commissioner records, court records and more.

Patty said unscrupulous practices making the rounds in St. Johns County and Florida include jury duty scams and traffic or court payment scams. Learn more about protecting yourself from scams at stjohnsclerk.com/alerts/.

Property owners also are urged to sign up for free property fraud alerts through their county clerk of courts, which provides an early warning for subscribers if a fraudulent deed or lien is recorded against their property in clerk official records. Details can be found at stjohnsclerk.com/recording-activity/. 

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