cautions about new property deed scam
Fraud alert system available
Imagine, youve lived in your
home all your life, its paid for, and suddenly you get notice
that its being foreclosed on. You know you dont have
a mortgage, so why is the bank foreclosing?
While the scenario sounds bizarre, victims of property fraud are
very real. According to information from Indiana Attorney General
Greg Zoeller, a new type of white-collar crime is cropping up
across the state. In these instances, the title to a home can
literally be stolen out from under the homeowner.
What these unscrupulous criminals do is create a fraudulent deed
from a sample document, which are easily obtained. Then they record
the deed at the local recorders office in the county in
which the property is located, and the true owner doesnt
have a clue. Then the criminals are able to get a mortgage against
the property that they dont even legally own.
The attorney general and recorders say thieves can get by with
this fraud because they will usually wait a few months after recording
the deed before they apply for a loan. Months later, after no
loan payments are made, the lending institution begins foreclosure
proceedings. Thats when the property owner has the first
inkling something is amiss.
How can this happen? Well, its easy, according to Tammy
Borgman, Ripley County Recorder. She explained that when someone
brings in a document to be recorded and it meets all the criteria
set forth by the state, her office is obligated to record it.
We cant question the document as long as it meets
all Indiana recording requirements, she noted.
But, Borgman can do something and she has. A new system called
Property Fraud Alert is being offered to property owners in Ripley
County through the Recorders Office. This program
alerts property owners when a document has been filed in our office,
noted Borgman. If the homeowner is notified in time, it is possible
to stop these thieves in their tracks. Since they dont usually
apply for a loan for a while after it is recorded, there is time
to stop the possibility of them getting a loan against the property.
Its easy to apply, according to Borgman. There is no cost
to the property owner for the program. You simply go online at
www.propertyfraudalert.com/ripleyin and follow the prompts. You
can enter first, middle and last name with up to five variations
of spelling for each property owner. It is very user friendly,
noted Borgman. Deputy Recorder Michelle Cutter demonstrated the
process showing its simplicity.
Once your name is in the property fraud alert system, then you
are automatically notified when a document matching your name
entry is recorded at your local recorders office.
Borgman noted that people who do not have computers at home could
visit their local libraries to gain access to apply for the program
or simply call her office at 689-5808 and someone will assist
you in getting signed up to be notified.
The homeowner will then be notified by email or telephone, the
property owners preference, if someone records any documents pertaining
to their property.
How concerned should property owners be? Very, according to Borgman,
who says she has already dealt with a situation in the local office
regarding this type of fraud.
Once someone has a mortgage against your property it is possible
to get the matter cleared up. It takes a court judgment proving
the deed is fraudulent. That process takes time and sometimes
thousands of dollars to rectify, according to the attorney general.
When Borgman learned of the new crime that could potentially affect
every property owner in the county she serves, she wanted to alert
people and help protect them from being a victim. This new
system is designed to immediately alert property owners and hopefully
eliminate victims, she noted.
Deeds are public records and can be researched in the recorders
office in the county in which the deed has been recorded. You
can contact the recorders office for more information or
to check out your recorded deeds. Records are also available to
look at online for a fee. You can contact the recorders
office for subscription fees and contract terms for online records.