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DOC fees surging across country

November 18, 2010
Most states don’t cap increases

Documentary service fees are as high as $900 in the roughly 30 states without set fees or caps on fees, with the paperwork processing charges an average $400 to $700 in those states, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 3.


In Illinois, the original fee in 1992 was $40, and annual increases have been tied to the federal Consumer Price Index, as measured by the U.S. Labor Department. The maximum DOC fee in Illinois for 2006 is $57.33. Indiana dealers may charge a DOC fee that reflects expenses actually incurred in preparing any documents.


A new law in Ohio lets dealers charge as much as $250 for doing the paperwork, up from the previous limit of $100. In California, a law that takes effect Jan. 1 raises the limit to $55 from $45 for dealers in the state. Many dealers in the Las Vegas area charge processing fees of about $400, compared with area fees of about $200 a decade ago.


Consumers and lawmakers in some cases are fighting the fees. But dealers in the states without fee caps say they have charged more because new federal and state rules have led to more paperwork requirements over the last five years.


The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act privacy requirements and national-security measures mandated by law—like checking customers against federal lists of people suspected of supporting terrorist activities, then documenting that the check was performed—are examples of newer federal hurdles that add to the paperwork.


In many states without set caps, there is little regulation of the fees besides statutes or attorney general opinions specifying that the fees are allowed or should be disclosed in sales contracts and advertising as separate from government fees and as a separate line item.