The service that they offer is to prepare some forms for you. Then they mail those forms back to you.
After you have those forms, it is up to you to bring them to a notary public and PAY a notary to have your form notarized, then you bring it to the recorders office and PAY the county recorder to have it recorded.
if a consumer focused and read the entire letter carefully they might realize that they were not getting much of anything of significant value for the $47.95 fee
Yet, I also imagine someone skimming the letter may not realize that the service does not include notarization and recording.
Did they offer the notarization and recording for an additional fee when you got your forms back?
Try out this link to the county assessor's web site (Riverside County only).
Best of all, you don't have to notorize it.
Brenda is correct; I did mine on my own, and there is, to my understanding, still a benefit to filing a homestead. It has to do with protecting your primary residence from creditors. Consult an attorney for specifics and to verify / clarify.
As for why promotional solicitations are included, sometimes it looks official and isn't, and other times, though we don't like to admit it, it's a simple case of a phenomenon that is getting worse: the sale of your personal information for commercial (advertising) purposes.
Protecting your identity and having a rolling opt-out / fraud alert is something I highly recommend to anyone, but especially to new homeowners. You haven't seen junk mail until you close on a home!
I recommend an affordable financial solutions membership to everyone I know; I personally use it and have been very pleased with it, and I make sure all my clients know about it after they close their transaction. See the link below to learn more about how to cut your time in debt in half, protect your identity and more.
Hope you find this helpful, and enjoy your new home!