How to guard against property and mortgage scams

Published on October 24, 2022 at 3:46 pm

A new program in Northeast Florida could protect you from scammers who would steal your home, land or business property.

Court clerks in six counties — Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns — are urging people to subscribe to property fraud alert services. A key element of the partnership is a shared website where people can sign up:

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Property and mortgage fraud is rising nationwide, and scammers miles away can steal your property digitally by filing fraudulent documents.

Identity protection companies charge monthly or annual fees to monitor your official records, but local clerks of court offer a free option. You just need to subscribe to receive alerts when an official document is recorded in your name with that office.

The service will not prevent a fraudulent action from occurring, but it will give you an early warning that something might be amiss and you should contact law enforcement, seek legal advice or even file a case in civil court, the clerks say.

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“We ask property owners to partner with us, as we work to eliminate the attempts to steal homes and land,” Clay County Clerk Tara Green said in a news release. “Bad actors might get away with a fraudulent filing, but an alert sent to a registered property owner will quickly follow that allows the property owner to intervene.”

Duval Clerk Jody Phillips said, “Property fraud alerts give individuals and businesses the tools they need to proactively monitor recorded documents and stop property fraud at its very source.”

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