Ocean County offers free service to protect property owners from document fraud
It can take years before a home or business owner discovers a scammer recorded a fraudulent deed, mortgage or lien on their property--that's why the Ocean County Clerk's office is offering residents an added level of security with its free, Property Alert Service.
Those who register for the Property Alert Service will be notified by email any time a document is recorded on their property, according to Clerk Scott Colabella.
If it's a document that wasn't recorded by the property owner, "You can then take appropriate action through your attorney, and contact the prosecutor's office or a law enforcement entity," said Colabella.
"We think in this day and age it would be very helpful to the public if they were aware of it," Colabella said.
Colabella noted the Property Alert Service works similar to the way a credit card company would notify a card holder of suspicious transactions. He also pointed out a person's home is their most prized possession and that Property Alert is a way to give residents "peace of mind."
Although the service can't prevent fraud, Colabella reiterated it's a way to notify a property owner early that someone may be trying to steal their property without their knowledge.
The only time document recordings can be refused by the County Clerk's Office is when statutory guidelines are not met, according to Colabella.
Thousands of documents are recorded each year at the County Clerk's Office. Of the 131,893 documents recorded in 2015, 24,492 were deeds and 22,778 were mortgages.
Residents can register at www.oceancountyclerk.com, by clicking on the Property Alert Service icon.