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 Official Records, apparently changing the ownership of their property. Fraudulent mortgages and liens could also be recorded with respect to a property.
Often times, this type of fraud can go undetected if the property owner does not periodically check the Official Records. 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.
The Orange County Comptroller’s Official Records Department only reviews requirements for recording and has no authority to refuse to record a properly prepared document, even if it may be fraudulent.
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.
What can you do to protect your property from property fraud?
- Check the Comptroller’s Official Records often using the Records Search to make sure that there are no deeds, mortgages or liens that you are unaware of on your property. Signing up for the FREE Property Fraud Alert will automate this process with email or phone notification. You can call 800-728-3858 for more information on this service.
- 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 Property Appraiser and Tax Collector offices have the correct mailing address for you or the person who should receive notices about your property.
- Contact the Property Appraiser and Tax Collector if you suddenly stop receiving notices that you used to get such as your TRIM Notice and Tax Bill.
What to do if you think you may be a victim of deed fraud
- Act quickly!
- Report fraud to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (open in new window) immediately by calling OCSO Economic Crimes at 407-836-4357.
- Contact the Property Appraiser (open in new window) and Tax Collector (open in new window) offices and alert them of the purported fraud.
- Neither the Comptroller, the Property Appraiser, or the Tax Collector offices can take legal action on your behalf to reverse the fraudulent activity. Therefore, you may want to consult an attorney to confirm your ownership in the property or take other appropriate action.