Monticello, NY – Sullivan County Clerk Russell Reeves is now providing a free service to help property owners protect one of their most valuable assets. With Fraud Alert, anyone can sign up to receive email alerts whenever a document, such as a deed or mortgage, is recorded under their name.
“This service provides an easy way for homeowners to have peace of mind,” said Reeves.
According to the FBI, property fraud is one of the fastest-growing white-collar crimes. Deed fraud can occur when someone records a fraudulent document in the Clerk’s Office, apparently changing the ownership of their property. Fraudulent mortgages and liens could also be recorded with respect to a property.
“Oftentimes, this type of fraud can go undetected if the property owner does not periodically check the records at the Clerk’s Office,” cautioned Reeves, noting that the Sullivan County Clerk’s Office Land Department only reviews requirements for recording and has no authority to refuse to record a properly prepared document, even if it may potentially end up being fraudulent.
Although checking does not prevent the actual fraudulent activity from taking place, it does provide an early warning of what may have otherwise gone undetected. (Note that even if proved fraudulent, no document can be removed from the official records without a judge’s order from the courts.)
Consumers should take prompt, appropriate action if they determine a recording to be fraudulent. They can sign up now for free for Fraud Alert at https://searchiqs.com/fraudalert?CC=NYSUL, or visit https://sullivanny.us/Departments/Clerk/Fraud.
All that is asked is to provide a name to monitor. Please note there may be other local property owners who share the same name, so notifications will be generated for any matching name in Sullivan County.
Reeves recommends additional steps that property owners can take to be safer:
- If your property is not occupied, you should check often to make sure it is not occupied illegally.
- Ask someone you trust to look after your house if you are going to be away for an extended period of time.
- Do not let mail pile up if you are going out of town.
- Make sure that the assessor and tax collector offices have the correct mailing address for you or the person who should receive notices about your property.
- Contact the assessor and tax Collector if you suddenly stop receiving notices that you used to get, such as your tax bill.
In the event you think you may be a victim of property fraud, act quickly by:
- Reporting fraud to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office by calling 845-794-7100.
- Contacting your assessor and tax collector offices to alert them of the purported fraud.
- Considering consulting an attorney, since neither the County Clerk, the assessor, or the tax collector offices can take legal action on your behalf to reverse the fraudulent activity.