Dear Relatives and Friends:
Beware of “get rich quick” scams using your family genealogy!
We often see or hear about announcements that a certain family surname is going or is about to go to trial to claim land grant property and oil royalties which once belonged to one or more of your ancestors. The end result is that you get “hooked” into paying for someone to do your family genealogy to show the proper lineage to your ancestors. In many cases, people do not truly have the necessary lineage yet they are told they do in order to get your money.
Some of these announcements may be legitimate and good things can come from them. However, often times they are not. Here are some suggestions that may avoid you some serious problems and that may even save you some of your hard earned money:
Do a complete investigation of your own to make sure a trial is going on or is about to start soon. Get the “hard data” and by that I mean the name of the city and court along with the case number and specific dates (Get it in writing). Find out if it involves a lawsuit and check as to who the key players in the case are. If you are going to contract someone for genealogy services, make sure that person or business is legitimate. Ask for documentation on the business and their track record. Make sure the business is licensed and that they have certified genealogists with experience. If they are a legitimate business, they will often have a Website for you to check some of these things. Demand a copy of a contract or agreement that spells out what it is you are going to get for your money. Ask to see a sample packet. Do not pay the entire fee up front and by all means, do not pay them a cent until you have a signed contract or agreement on hand (signed by both parties). If at all possible, withhold fifty percent (50%) or more of the fees until the full services (genealogy packets) are delivered. Always get and keep receipts for the money you pay for services rendered. Do not rely strictly on the Internet e-mails and phone calls for your information. Have the person or business send you written material via U.S. postal mail. This will enable you to determine if they can write a business letter on their business letterhead that includes a business address. As you may be aware, addresses with a P.O. Box numbers do not always tell you if there is business address separate from their home and you may want to get a clarification on this.
Generally speaking, there is no trial or lawsuit involved but rather, just going through a court proceeding wherein they are simply filing or declaring a group of people as the legal heirs of one certain ancestor. Supposedly, this declaration will then put you “in line” to receive land and/or oil royalties in the event it ever comes about. Again, there is no lawsuit and no specific oil companies or other parties mentioned. This is next to an empty promise! The whole affair is turned into a “Big Hype” with the intent of getting more clients to sign up for genealogy services. Part of the “Big Hype” may include certain deadlines for going to court or trial. Some will even say that if you don’t get your application in this time, you will not be able to join later. Be open minded and read between the lines!
Hope this information will be of some use to all you folks out there!
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