BOONVILLE — County recorders from the Indiana Recorders Association met at a press conference Tuesday, Jan. 30, to roll out a property fraud alert app the public can use to keep themselves aware of misdeeds towards their property.
“The threat of mortgage fraud and identity theft continue to rise and all too often, victims of these types of fraudulent activities are unaware their homes or identity have been stolen,” reads the press release sent in preparation for the conference.
“While Property Fraud Protection [app] 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,” reads the press release.
The IRA reported that this crime is rare in Indiana but on the rise in the U.S. As such, recorders around the state are providing the app as a tool to help owners respond quickly to fraud.
County Recorder Offices across the state have made the app available for residents for free.
So far, over 72,000 Indiana residents have signed up for the fraud alert. In the region, 2,300 property owners have signed up.
Recorders across the state are holding press conferences to urge more residents to sign up.
Property is the biggest investment most Hoosiers make, where the app helps people protect that investment, the IRA commented.
Warrick County Recorder Patricia Brooks explained, “We started this back in 2009 … we thought this was a good deal because I had seen property fraud in 2006. It happened and nothing alerted us until later. It was a rough story — they ended up losing their house because of property fraud.”
Brooks revealed back in 2009, they couldn’t get officials to understand the importance of it. Now, several years later, Brooks
said they were able to get the project going. “If scammers know that our state has Property Fraud Alert, they’ll go to another state that doesn’t have it,” Brooks said.
Recorders emphasized that property fraud is real. They further explained that this alert will help individuals protect themselves and help families protect loved ones who might be targets of scammers.
Vanderburgh County Recorder Debra Stucki explained the sign up is a short form requiring address and notification choice. The app alerts users about any document filed to the Recorders Office of any form filled out in the owner name. The recipient of the alert can contact their local Recorder Office to check what document was filed.
Once signed up for the app, anyone who receives an alert should go to the local police department, seek legal advice or talk to the Prosecutors Office.
As recorders commented, “We are not lawyers — we cannot give advice.”
“This cannot stop fraud from happening but it can alert you right away so you can take steps,” recorders said. “There have been cases where people haven’t found out for years and it’s a lot harder to do something about it rather than right away.”
The IRA provided an article from AARP Bulletin magazine by Joe Eaton, published November 2023, which further explains how property fraud works.
“In the first type, thieves forge a deed that transfers ownership of a property to them,” Eaton writes. “They file a deed with the county clerk, who records the sale. Then, the property is quickly sold to an unsuspecting purchaser.”
The article continues, “In the second type, crooks trick a homeowner into signing a deed to transfer ownership, often by promising help refinancing a mortgage or paying overdue property taxes.”
To sign up for the app or for any questions, property owners can contact their local Recorders Office or visit the Property Fraud Alert app at www.propertyfraudalert.com.
County Recorders part of the Indiana Recorders Association from the region are, with office numbers:
• Dubois County, Jackie McPherron; 812-481-7076.
• Perry County, Jane James; 812-547-4261.
• Warrick County, Patricia Brooks; 812-897-6165.
• Spencer County, Vicki Brauns; 812-649-6013.
• Pike County, Misty Coleman; 812-354-6747.
• Vanderburgh County, Debra Stucki; 812-435-5215.
• Posey County, Chris Hoehn; 812-838-1314.