How Oakland County Fights Real Estate Fraud

by Saish Gadamsetty, Emerging Products Sr. Product Manager, Xerox Local Government Solutions

Real Estate fraud is on the rise in states from Michigan to Massachusetts, raising concerns from County Clerks and Registers of Deeds nationwide.

So what exactly is deed fraud? Deed fraud or property record fraud occurs when a scammer files a blank deed or false documents at the county claiming that the property owner is transferring the property to the scammer. Scammers notarize the forged document and file at the recorder of deeds for a fee, thereby making the document part of the official record of ownership. The scammers can then secure loan against the property based on the fraudulent titles using the property owners name without their knowledge.

Considering that very few property owners check their property records on a regular basis, most are unaware of this threat.

But as technology advances, more and more counties are adopting new solutions that can help identify fraud as it happens, like the Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds in Pontiac, Michigan. The Oakland County Clerk recently launched a free program that alerts property owners about potentially fraudulent activity, such as forged deeds and deceitful liens whenever a document pertaining to a particular property is recorded.

Here’s how it works: In 2014, Oakland County launched Super Index, next generation document search engine powered by Google and Xerox, making it simple for property owners and professionals to search millions of filed documents by name, address, property identification number and other types of information.

By adding Xerox’s Property Records Notification (PRN) system to its document search engine, the County makes it possible for users to receive a notification about a document filed on the property or against the user’s name, making it much more difficult for con artists to go undetected.

This first of a kind system is the part of Oakland County’s commitment to ensuring the official record of ownership is accessible – but also stays intact.

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