Union County Clerk’s office is offering free Property Fraud Alert to county residents, including Roselle Park.
“Nationwide, property fraud is the largest growing white-collar crime according to the FBI,” said Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, “It is especially insidious because seniors are often the target, and the victims often have no idea that their property rights have been compromised until it’s too late.”
Mortgage fraud, as noted on the FBI website, is a crime characterized by some type of material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission on a loan which is then relied upon by a lender. Basically, lying on your mortgage loan application is mortgage fraud. There are two distinct areas of mortgage fraud: fraud for profit and fraud for housing.
Those who commit mortgage fraud for profit are often industry insiders – such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry – using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud.
Fraud for housing typically represents illegal actions conducted solely by the borrower, who is motivated to acquire and maintain ownership of a house under false pretenses such as misrepresented income and asset information on a loan application.
Common mortgage fraud tactics include:
- Foreclosure rescue schemes
- Loan modification schemes
- Illegal property flipping
- Builder bailout/condo conversion
- Equity skimming
- Silent second mortgage
- Home equity conversion mortgage (HECM)
- Commercial real estate loans
- Air loans
Detailed information on each scheme mentioned above, as well as tips for consumers, can be found on the FBI Mortgage Fraud web page (link). There is also general information on mortgage fraud (link) – including house-stealing (link) – and a special page dedicated to alerting senior citizens of mortgage fraud (link).
The Property Fraud Alert system can be subscribed to via the internet (link) or by phone at (800) 728-3858. Property owners can provide their name or their business name. Additional names can also be registered free of charge, to cover common misspellings.
The Property Fraud Alert system can be subscribed to via the internet (link) by phone at (800) 728-3858.
Information received through the alerts can be verified by visiting the Union County Clerk’s property search website (link) or by calling the Property Fraud Alert call center at (800) 728-3858.
The call center is currently available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Starting October 1st, expanded hours will be offered Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday hours will remain 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“This program protects consumers, offers an extra safety net and provides early notice that someone may be committing fraud against them,” explained Ms. Rajoppi.
Offered as an additional safety net, the Property Fraud Alert system does not prevent fraud but it provides an early warning to the potential of fraudulent activity so that property owners can alert local law enforcement.
“When it comes to property fraud, knowledge is power,” County Clerk Rajoppi stated, “The new Property Fraud Alert system will enable you to identify a potential problem as quickly as possible, so that you can re-establish your property rights promptly and with relatively little expense.”