Property fraud is considered the fastest growing white-collar crime according to statistics reported by the FBI. If you are a property owner, then you should familiarize yourself with property fraud and how you can prevent it from happening to you.
What is Property Fraud?
Property fraud is the process of claiming ownership of someone else’s property through falsifying documents. Criminals can fraudulently claim ownership to accomplish many different types of crimes. They can file for a home equity loan, apply for a loan while listing the home as an asset, and (in some rare cases) sell the property.
How Property Fraud Can Affect You
In the event someone was able to wrongfully claim ownership of your property, there are a wide range of possible outcomes. In the most extreme cases, victims of property fraud have come back to their seasonal home only to find new occupants that have purchased the property from a fraudulent seller. The more common cases involve property owners finding out about unexpected liens placed on their homes because of their property being fraudulently listed as an asset on loan applications that they did not complete.
How To Avoid Property Fraud
Many County Clerk’s offices have recognized the increased activity of property fraud crimes. As a result, they are providing a free service for the citizens in their county to sign up for fraud alerts. These alerts will notify you every time a document is recorded in the office with your name on it. If you are notified of a transaction you were unaware of, then you can call the office of the county clerk to alert them of the fraudulent transaction. Below are the websites you can visit for Monmouth and Ocean County. If you are not in either county, be sure to check your county clerk’s office website to see if they offer the service as well.