How to Combat Real Estate Scams With Homeowner Alerts

April 17, 2023 by Anonym

How to Combat Real Estate Scams With Homeowner Alerts

According to the FBI’s 2022 Internet Crime Report, real estate fraud was among the top crimes in 2022 by victim count, resulting in more than $396 million in losses. It’s one of the fastest rising white-collar crimes and occurs when a property’s title is obtained through a fraudulent transfer document.

How does it work? A criminal actor can forge a transfer deed and register it with the county under his or her name. Recording offices, through normal processes, record a discharge on the existing mortgage. That clear title can then be used to borrow money against your property. Of course, the thief never makes payments on the new mortgage, which can quickly lead to the property’s foreclosure.

A County’s Proactive Approach

Real estate fraud can touch all corners of the U.S., from rural communities to large cities. In Wagoner County, Oklahoma, these nationwide increases in real estate fraud led to growing community concerns.

“We were hearing more and more from individuals concerned about real estate fraud,” says Lori Hendricks, clerk of Wagoner County. “They were asking us what they could do to prevent this from happening to them.”

For Wagoner County, the solution was clear. They decided to add on to their existing software to offer a fraud alert notification service. This service automatically informs residents when new documents are recorded using their personal or property information. These alerts come via automated emails with links to the index and document for immediate access and review. Property owners can enter multiple variations and combinations of their names and parcel numbers to ensure comprehensive monitoring.

This cost-effective solution enabled them to offer a free service to their constituents to proactively prevent real estate fraud.

Getting the Word Out

Once this important new service was added, Wagoner County utilized a variety of measures to get the word out to their community. They shared a press release, posted on social media, and sent a postcard mailer to area title companies, real estate offices, mortgage companies, banks, and insurance companies.

By far the most effective communication method was done in partnership with the assessor’s office. They included a flyer in a reassessment mailing that went to approximately 35,000 households. Nearly 600 individuals have enrolled to date, a number they expect will continue to grow.

Peace of Mind

Everyone has responded very positively to this service, and the county has not received one negative comment.

“To say we are pleased is a gross understatement. Our constituents are thrilled and so are we,” Hendricks says.

Residents of Wagoner County can feel comfort in knowing their county has their back and is prioritizing resident security.

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