LANSING—Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-East Lansing) introduced new legislation today to crack down on companies that attempt to deceive citizens by selling them copies of public records at enormous profit margins.

“Many companies that operate outside of Michigan solicit our citizens for purchasing copies of their property deeds and circumventing local governments,” said Hertel. “The citizens then pay an exorbitant fee of 80 to 100 dollars for this deed when, in actuality, it costs one or two dollars from the Register of Deeds office.”

Senate Bill 366, introduced by Hertel, would require companies that sell copies of public records to print clearly on their solicitations that the records are directly obtainable from local government offices, along with the charge for the document if the customer were to go directly to their local records office or print the document for themselves online. The solicitations would have to meet other criteria as well, such as a notation that “no action is legally required by the person being solicited.”

“We have many residents that bring these mailings into our office,” said Derrick Quinney, the Ingham County Register of Deeds. “The language in these mailings often impresses upon the recipient that they have a legal obligation to possess a physical copy of their property deed, while nothing could be further from the truth.”

“These solicitations target certain demographics, such as our senior citizens, who may be unaware of how public records are maintained and obtained,” said Michele Cooke, Emmet County Register of Deeds. “These companies use scare tactics to convince residents that they need a copy of their deed, and then charge up to 100 times the actual cost of the document.”

“One of our greatest responsibilities as legislators is the protection of our citizens,” said Hertel. “My legislation will ensure that the people who receive these mailings know exactly what they’re being sold.”

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