Property fraud is a fast-growing crime that can include the unlawful transfer of property ownership. For example, it’s possible for scammers to forge your identity, transfer your property into their name, and record a document in the Official Records, all without your knowledge. This fraudulent activity can make it appear as if the scammer owns your home or property, while you have no idea that the transfer has taken place. Some fraud victims do not realize their property has been “stolen” for years.
The filing of fraudulent deeds is such a serious problem that many counties, including Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties, now offer free services to alert property owners of any change in the Official Records regarding their property. If you live in one of these counties, consider registering for this valuable service by visiting the property fraud alert section your county’s website:
Burlington County: https://www.propertyfraudalert.com/NJBurlington
Gloucester County: https://pfa.uslandrecords.com/Default.aspx
If your county does not offer property fraud alerts, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself from property fraud, such as:
(1) Periodically reviewing your own property records in your County Clerk’s office;
(2) Checking your credit report regularly for signs of identity theft, which often accompanies property fraud;
(3) Identifying signs of potential fraud, such as:
- A demand for payment in full from a mortgage holder
- Not receiving an expected property tax bill or notice
- Mail regarding a mortgage or other financial obligation that you did not request
- Unexpected activity at your property (particularly in the case of second homes)
For more information and tips to avoid becoming a property fraud victim, visit www.deeds.com/deed-fraud/property-owners.html.