WALKER - Did you know scammers could forge your signature, then take out a mortgage against your property or transfer the deed to your home, land or business property without your knowledge for their own financial gain?
County recorders are not required to verify that signatures on recorded documents are legitimate.
According to the FBI, property and mortgage fraud is the fastest-growing white-collar crime.
Cass County Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe recalled a case a few years ago where a non-resident property owner returned to Cass County to find someone had subdivided and developed a portion of his lakeshore without his knowledge. He said a notification service could have prevented this.
Cass County now has taken steps to alert property owners when the county recorder registers any new document against a property, but each taxpayer must sign up for the fraud alert service to receive notification.
Cass County Recorder Katie Norby has contracted for Property Fraud Alert from Fidlar Technologies, effective immediately.
It will cost the county only $1,000 per year or less than 4 cents per property owner for the county's 26,000 taxpayers. It costs property owners nothing to register for alerts.
To register, property owners must go to the Cass County Web site, www.co.cass.mn.us, then click on Property Fraud Alert and enter their first and last name or business name and specify whether they wish to receive alerts by e-mail or telephone message.
Those who do not have Internet service or have questions can call the recorder's office at (218) 547-7381 to have a county employee register their name or answer their questions.
Once registered, taxpayers will receive an alert from Fidlar whenever a new document is recorded in their name. This will include legitimate documents as well as fraudulent ones.
If you refinance your home mortgage, you should expect to receive an alert, Norby said, because the service responds whenever any property document is recorded. You can either assume it is the document you know was recorded or you can check with the recorder's office to verify that.
If a person receives an alert when they have not sold or re-mortgaged their home or business property, they should go to the recorder's office at the courthouse in Walker to view the newly recorded document and obtain a copy. They then should report the fraud to law enforcement.
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