Action 9 has been reporting on thieves can steal your property right out from under you.
They prey on older residents whose property is paid off, but there is a way to protect yourself.
Seminole County has a fraud alert system in place for property owners that they can sign up for, and it’s free.
The system has been in place for five years. However, less than 7,900 residents have taken advantage of it.
Seminole County Clerk of Courts Grant Maloy is surprised the number is not higher in a county of that size.
“If something gets recorded, it could be a deed, could be a lien, could be really any official record, we’ll send you a link to that document,” Maloy said. “You can take a look, it’ll link right to it, you can see if that document was legitimate. And if it wasn’t, you can take steps to have that removed from the record.”
In the last 30 days, 217 properties changed hands in Seminole County through either a warranty deed or a quit claim deed. If all 217 properties were registered with fraud alert, the property owner would have received an email letting them know there was a change.
Luann Woodley, the Director of the Records Center for the Seminole County Clerk of the Courts, says a quit claim deed is the easiest way for thieves to steal your property, since there is nothing encumbered to it.
“They’re not expecting anything,” Woodley explained. “So these people find it very easy to just transfer the property and the people will never know unless they go to get some kind of a loan out or go to sell their property.”
Since Action 9 has been reporting on stories of properties being stolen, Seminole County has been pushing the fraud alert website more. The Property appraiser has also started linking from his website to the clerk’s website.
“When I’m out in public, I have these little cards I hand out for the free property fraud alert system, “Maloy said. “So there’s really no excuse for people not to sign up. And other counties have it too. It’s not just Seminole, but you go to Orange and and some of the other counties around the area, and they can sign up for free to get that insurance.”
To sign up in Seminole County, click here.