Counties in northeast Indiana are taking steps to alert property owners when they may be victims of property fraud.
Property fraud occurs when someone records a fraudulent document in the county recorder’s office, making it look like they own your home or property.
Recorders in DeKalb, Noble, LaGrange, Allen and Whitley counties are among 44 Indiana counties participating in Property Fraud Alert.
Property Fraud Alert is an online subscription service offered to the public for free that allows them to have their name monitored within the recorder’s office in order to track possible fraudulent recordings that affects their property.
“This is free. Sign-up only takes seconds,” said DeKalb County Recorder Leta Hullinger, noting that subscribers sign up using only their first name and last name and no middle initials.
Noble County Recorder Tonya Jones said the Indiana Recorders Association has been good about getting the word out about the service around the state.
While service has been offered for a number of years, recent publicity has lead to an increase in the number of people signing up in her office, Jones said.
“We’ve got quite a few that will come in or we’ll mail them a form or they’ll call and we’ll have them go online. It’s becoming pretty popular,” Jones added.
According to the service’s data privacy statement, all information entered into the Property Fraud Alert site is used exclusively for the tracking and notification of recording activity.
“The owner of this website (Fidlar Technologies in partnership with our county partners) agrees to never resell this information to any individual or company,” the service states.
“We do not sell their name,” Hullinger emphasized.
Property Fraud Alert alerts subscribers by email, text message, or a phone call each time a document is recorded with their name on it in participating recorder’s offices.
“They can call and we will verify what was recorded,” Hullinger explained.
“We can’t prevent things being recorded, but can alert the moment one has. It’s very simple,” she said.
“When something gets recorded in their name, they get an alert. They can check out to see what was recorded,” Hullinger explained.
The alert notification will contain the following information: county location; document number, document type, recorded date, and the matched party name.
According to Property Fraud Alert, the threat of mortgage fraud and identity theft crimes continue to rise, and all too often victims of these types of fraudulent activities are unaware their homes or identity have been stolen.
“While Property Fraud Alert does not prevent fraud from happening; it provides an early warning system for property owners to take appropriate actions should they determine possible fraudulent activity has taken place” the service states.
“There really have not been any fraudulent documents being recorded, but there have been in other counties,” Hullinger said.
“99.9% of the time, it’s going to be legitimate,” Hullinger said, but added, “There are people out there that do that — fraudulently trying to take title to people’s property.”
DeKalb County has 866 subscribers to Property Fraud Alert.
“This has been available since 2008, but is now being really pushed because of incidences of property fraud,” Hullinger said.
“Recorders now are pushing it because there’s active stuff going on.”
“It’s just an important thing with today’s world. It’s better to find out a day after something was recorded with your name on it than six months down the road,” said LaGrange County Recorder Sheila Getz.
“It’s a very good free service for the people of our county. We have forms that they can come in and fill out or they can go online on our website and fill out an online form. We have brochures in here that will give them a little bit more information on the process ant things to watch for,” Jones said.
“I just encourage people to be aware and to sign up for it. It’s free. And I know a lot of people are leery of ‘sign up for this, it’s free.’ You have to be leery in this day and age … But it’s totally legit and it’s free and it’s just something that could help them in the long run,” Jones added.
Visit the home page of Property Fraud Alert, at propertyfraudalert.com to see the full list of participating counties and to sign up for free.
Those who require assistance to sign up may call 800-728-3858.