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County official warns of potential realty scam

Livingston County’s Register of Deeds has issued a warning for local homeowners to avoid MV Realty’s Homeowner Benefit Program.

“The program offers homeowners an upfront cash payment in exchange for the exclusive right of MV Realty to act as the listing agent for any sale of the property during the term of the agreement, which has the potential to last 40 years,” stated a press release from Register of Deeds Brandon Denby. “According to MV Realty’s website, homeowners who decide to sell their property after signing the agreement, must do so with MV Realty at a 6 percent commission. Those who decide to sell their property without using MV Realty will face a stiff penalty equal to three percent of the home’s market value.”

Denby says the company, which is currently facing civil lawsuits filed by Florida, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania Attorneys General for “deceptive” and “misleading” business practices, has recorded 15 agreements in Livingston County in the last 13 months.

“We encourage homeowners to proceed with caution and to consult an attorney or real estate professional for advice before entering into any contract,” said Denby. “Without due diligence, residents could unknowingly allow an out-of-state company to potentially record a 40-year lien against their property that binds future successors of interest.”

 After investigating around 1,500 unwanted call complaints from consumers related to mortgages in 2022, the Federal Communications Commission announced earlier this month they are taking “decisive action to shut down an apparent homeowner-focused robocall scam campaign.”

“Mortgage scams are some of the most pernicious types of robocalls we see,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a news release. “Sending these junk calls to financially-stressed homeowners just to offer them deceptive products and services is unconscionable. That’s why we are shutting down these calls right now.”

The Federal Trade Commission highlighted some common warning signs of a mortgage relief scam:

• Scammers will demand payment upfront before you get any services. That is illegal — and a warning sign to avoid them.

• Scammers may want you to pay only by cashier’s check, wire transfer, or a mobile payment app. Scammers like you to pay this way because it is hard to get your money back.

• Scammers may try to convince you to transfer the deed to your home to them. The deed is the legal document that proves who owns the home. If you transfer the deed, you will not likely get it back.

 The FCC advises consumers who receive unwanted or suspicious calls to:

• Not answer calls from unknown numbers;

• Be aware that spoofing can make scam calls appear to be local and/or from a trusted institution;

• Do not provide any personal or financial information – including mortgage or home ownership information – to unknown callers;

• Only contact your financial institution using their legitimate contact info from their website or a bill rather than trusting that the unknown caller is calling from that institution;

• Talk to friends and family who might be targeted so they understand how to protect themselves from scam robocalls;

• File a complaint with the FCC at www.fcc.gov/complaints; and,

• Contact law enforcement if you have been the victim of a scam.

 If residents have questions, they can contact the Register of Deeds Office at 517-546-0270 or via email at rod@livgov.com.


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