Staying A Step Ahead of a Growing Problem
According to the FBI, Property and Mortgage fraud is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the United States. Unfortunately, it has become all too easy for a criminal to record a fraudulent deed, making it appear as if they own your home. Once this step is complete, they can use your home as collateral on a mortgage or even attempt to sell your property to an unsuspecting buyer.
Although this type of crime is rare in Ohio, it is on the rise nationwide. The Mercer County Recorder’s Office has taken a proactive step to provide you with one tool for staying ahead of criminals who prey on property owners.
To address these concerns, your Recorders office has teamed up to create a notification service that will help you combat the effects of land fraud and other similar fraudulent activities.
What is Property Fraud Alert (PFA)?
Property Fraud Alert (PFA) is a FREE notification service that alerts subscribers via email each time a document is recorded with their name on it in Mercer County.
My first name is often spelled many ways; how should I enter it?
It is highly recommended that you enter only the first letter of your first name in the first fame filed. For example, with a name such as Steven, Stephen, or Steven, you may wish to enter the letter “S” in the first name field. OR you may wish to enter the first few letters of your first name to limit the number of first name matches. For example, if the letters “St” are entered, a name match may result for the names Steven, Stan, Stacy, Sterling, etc.
My last name is spelled differently on occasion; how should I enter it?
To illustrate, let’s use the last name “Van Buren” as our example. This name may at times be spelled with a space in it (“Van Buren”) and at other times with no space (“VanBuren”). For cases like this, it is highly recommended that you make two separate entries with both name variations. For the Property Fraud Alert system to work as intended, and for notification alerts to be sent, the last name spelling, or business name spelling of the name must match exactly.
My name is John Smith Junior (Jr.), how would I enter that into the notification form?
It is imperative that you DO NOT enter the suffix of your name (Jr., Sr., etc.) while entering your name into the notification form. Only enter your first name information into the first name field and your last name information into the last name field. The same logic applies with the middle names. DO NOT enter a middle name (or middle initial) into the field or last name fields.
I own a business, how should I enter my business name?
Business names should be entered exactly as the business name is spelled, “ACME Printing Company”, “Smith & Smith”, “XYZ Corporation”. There may be times, however, that the company may possibly index these names differently. For example, “XYZ Corporation” could possibly index as “XYZ Corp”. In this situation the name match would occur only if you entered “XYZ Corp”. Therefore, if your business name could contain variations similar to this, we highly recommend that you make an additional notification entry with that variation.
What if I receive a PFA alert notification?
If you feel that possible fraudulent activity has taken place via the notification.
- Contact any other parties whose names may be on the document
Other parties may be aware of the document and the reference property or may have mutual concern about the document’s potential impact
- Contact your attorney
If you are not sure about the purpose of the referenced document, a private attorney may be able to determine impact and possible action in a timely fashion and minimize the damage and inconvenience of a fraudulent document
- Contact your lending institution
If you believe possible fraudulent activity has taken place, contacting your bank, mortgage company, or lending institution in a timely fashion may help your cause.