Loudon County officials warn of identity theft scam

By Lance Coleman knoxnews.com

Loudon County officials warn of identity theft scam

Two Loudon County officials are warning residents of a new scam in which criminals steal the identities of new homeowners by offering to provide the victims with documentation they already have.

Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider and Loudon County Register of Deeds Tracie Littleton are warning residents that the scam recently reported in Middle Tennessee could be spreading to this area.

According to the officials, the perpetrators pressure victims into ordering a certified copy of their property deed for a fixed processing fee, ranging anywhere from $75 to $100. The letter looks official and is worded in such a way that convinces the victim that he or she must act now, Guider and Littleton said.

According to the officials, usually the homeowner receives the letter shortly after purchasing property. Currently, property owners in Middle Tennessee have received letters requesting $89, with a Nashville return address, which is a rented mail box at a FedEx store on Church Street, and there is no way to trace who is getting the money, Guider and Littleton said.

The officials said the catch with this scam is that homeowners don't need a middleman to get a certified copy of their property deed because they are included in the packet of closing papers received from the escrow company when the property is purchased.

Littleton said she fears victims also may end up with their identities being stolen.

"They only take checks, so that means they have your personal information, router number and checking number. That is all going to somebody, but we have no idea who," she said. "Most personal property information is available free on the Internet and for a minimum charge for copies at our office."

Loudon County residents with questions regarding their property deeds should contact the Register of Deeds office at 865-458-2605.