Recently, a North Texas woman lost ownership of her home when a fraudulent deed was filed transferring ownership of her residence, according to news reports. Because mortgage fraud continues to be a nationwide problem, Tarrant County offers a free service that can protect property owners.
“Foreclosures were once the preferred target for criminals trying to take property from homeowners unlawfully,” said Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia. “However, as foreclosure rates plummet, criminals have modified their tactics.”
The most likely method will be introducing fraudulent documents in the County Clerk’s Office that could cloud title or ownership of property, she said. Each month her employees reject suspicious documents that persons attempt to enter in the land records that could potentially cloud home ownership.
Their job is made easier by the Property Fraud Alert (PFA) service that helps to protect homeowners from such fraud. PFA is a free on-line notification service that alerts subscribers via email or telephone each time a document is recorded in the County Clerk’s office with their name listed as a signing party. More than 36,000 Tarrant County residents have subscribed to protect themselves since 2009 when the program was implemented.
It only takes a few moments to sign up for the service. Property owners may go to www.TarrantCounty.com, and then select Sign Up For from the I Want To area of the page. Participants will be notified only when the exact name they have provided is listed as a ‘Grantor’ or ‘Grantee’ on any of 90 different document types recorded in the County Clerk’s Office. A participant will be provided a link directly to the document in question. PFA is customizable in that alerts can be generated by email or telephone call from a PFA representative.