Property and mortgage fraud is one of the fastest growing white-collar crimes in the United States. Many Missouri and Illinois communities are taking steps to protect property owners.
Most people lack the information and tools necessary to protect themselves against fraudulent liens or conveyances. Many popular scams take advantage of this. For example, in a growing number of cases, unscrupulous individuals preying on unsuspecting victims record documents transferring to themselves the title to a victim’s home, following which they take out mortgages to pull cash from the property’s value. This may require forging the owner’s signature, which does not stop these people from committing the fraud. They then abscond, money in hand, leaving the homeowner to pick up the pieces.
St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, St. Charles County, and many other Missouri and Illinois counties have partnered with a service called “Property Fraud Alert.” Links to the organization’s website can be found on each county’s website. (St. Louis County: https://www.stlouisco.com/YourGovernment/Revenue/RecorderofDeedsDivision/PropertyFraudAlert; City of St. Louis: https://www.stlouiscityrecorder.org/land.html; St. Charles County: https://www.sccmo.org/511/Recorder-of-Deeds). “Property Fraud Alert” is a notification service that alerts subscribers via email or phone each time a document is recorded with their name on it in the participating County Land Records office.
While the service is free in many Missouri and Illinois counties, there is an option for a paid subscription for property owners who live in counties that have not partnered with the service.
The service is available for individuals, trusts, businesses, and other entities. A user must enter his or her name, email or phone number, and the registered name and address for the service to track. Then, when any document is recorded and entered into the county’s electronic system, the user is immediately notified, including the type of document and other pertinent information. It is important to note that a user must register separately for the service in every county in which they own property.
For more information about ways to protect against property fraud, consult an attorney at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal today.