Information provided by Assistant County Clerk-Recorder Francisco Diaz
The Recorder’s Office said property fraud is the fastest growing white-collar crime and as a result it is offering a free fraud protection service, that will notify property owners when land documents are recorded in their name.
“Property owners should always be on alert for potential recording fraud against their properties,” said County Recorder Joe Paul Gonzalez. “Fraudulent activity by bad actors happens right here in San Benito County. We’ve seen people impeded in the sale of their home due to unknown liens on their property.”
According to the release, scammers who focus on property fraud create fake paperwork to prove ownership of the property. The falsified documents allow them to sell the property, take out a mortgage or home repair loan, or use your property for other financial gain. It added banks and counties have no way of knowing this activity is not authorized.
Gonzalez said the Recorder’s Office established the program to assist home and business owners.
“Property owners in San Benito County will be notified by mail when a document is recorded on their property,” Gonzalez said. “A call can then be made to our office to be researched. If the recording is not legitimate, it is then up to the property owner to contact District Attorney’s Office to begin resolution.”
“Until the fraud issue is resolved, selling a home or trying to obtain a mortgage or refinancing can be difficult,” he said.
Gonzalez said the program is a positive step to promote awareness about property fraud prevention.
“Who’s to say someone isn’t taking advantage of a senior citizen by getting them to sign something, and without their or their family’s knowledge, they no longer own their property,” he said. “We would like to see this service be disclosed at each real estate closing in addition to property owner’s being made aware that letters offering to obtain copies of their deed from their Recorder’s Office for a high fee may be sent to them.”
He said the recorder’s office has seen people charged as much as $90 when a property owner can easily obtain the record from the county at a more reasonable cost.
“Most deeds are usually no more than $7 to $9,” he said.
Gonzalez said the Recorder’s Office will soon launch an additional fraud protection service, a free, automatic, and customizable property fraud email alert service which is designed to protect county residents. Residents will have the ability to subscribe to the automatic real time fraud.
For more information regarding the fraud protection program, call the Recorder’s Office at (831) 636-4029.