At some point or another you may need a copy of a birth, death, marriage, or divorce certificate. Many companies offer this service online but the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of one in particular.
Tramita LLC or Vital-records.us has received nearly 250 complaints in the last three years.
Sharon Kennedy from Laurel, came across the site when trying to order a copy of her marriage certificate in May of 2017.
“My employer needed a copy of my marriage certificate so that my husband could be placed on my health care insurance, and we were in the process of downsizing, everything was packed. I went down in the basement, even our strong box had been packed away so I thought, I'm not going to tear through all these boxes looking for it, I'll just see if I can get it online,” said Kennedy.
Hoping to save some time and avoid traffic, Kennedy saw that Vital-Records.us provides copies of D.C. marriage certificates through their online ordering process.
“I did give them a credit card, spent the $60 and then promptly forgot about it. And then a year later, a whole year later, my employer said we never got your marriage certificate and I said oh my gosh, I never got it,” Kennedy said.
She went back to the site and put in her order number.
“I went in and it said that my request was still being processed. And I thought, a whole year later, it's being processed?,” Kennedy said.
After some back and forth on email, the company said they're still processing but to call the D.C. vital records office with any questions and she did.
“So I called them, and said it's been a year now and I want to know where it is and there was silence for a second and she goes, 'that's a scam ma'am,'” Kennedy said.
D.C. doesn't provide online copies of marriage certificates, you can only request one with the D.C. Superior Court in-person or through the mail.
Kennedy wrote to the company and filed a complaint with the BBB. The BBB has since posted two alerts on their site detailing a pattern of complaints and disputing the company's claim that they make a "usually lengthy and frustrating process quick and easy.”
“I have always prided myself on being very intelligent as far as these scams go. I've been ordering things online for almost 25 years and this has never happened,” said Kennedy.
WMAR-2 News tried contacting the company by phone and email. Two phone numbers connected to Tramita LLC were disconnected and the email under their terms of service bounced back.
On their website, Tramita LLC also lists they will refund any refundable fees paid the customer but will keep a service fee of $65.00 plus tax.
Save money obtaining vital records:
Costs vary according to where you order copies of your vital records. You can save the most money by going directly to your state’s vital records office. See the examples below for the cost of records from Maryland.
- Vital-Records.us (Tramita): $85 - $87
- VitalCheck (state authorized online certificate seller): $21 - $24 **Not including shipping
- Maryland Division of Vital Records: $0 - $12 **There is no cost associated with birth and death corrections made within the first year of the event.
BBB tips on avoiding vital records scams:
- Go through official channels. In the United States, visit the official government website [usa.gov] for instructions on how to request a copy of your birth certificate. In Canada, go to the Registrar of your provincial government.
- Be wary of third party sites: Non-governmental websites that promise to get your birth certificate or other official documents for a fee are often scams.
- Guard your personal information carefully. If you need to request a document, be wary about submitting sensitive personal information online. Double check that you are on an official government website with a secure connection before submitting personal details.