MASON, MI – Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Junior has announced the launch of a new system designed to help residents prevent property fraud.
Subscribing to the system is free. Those who register will get a phone call or an email any time a property document is filed in their name.
Hertel says victims could find a cloud on their title when they try to sell their home, or be billed for a mortgage they hadn't applied for. He says the easiest way to commit property fraud has been to forge a quit-claim deed.
"You have to forge for the person who actually owns the property, and a fake notary public, and all of a sudden, you name's on the property," he says. "I mean, it's not a hard crime to commit. We don't want to publicize that, but we kind of have to in order to get citizens to understand it. It's a very easy crime to commit."
Identity theft is another method used to commit property fraud. Someone can take out a mortgage in your name, and then steal the equity in your home.
The system cost $15,000 and will cost $3,000 a year to maintain.