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Duval offers alerts as property fraud increases

With fraud on the rise, Duval County has launched a program to alert homeowners if their properties are at risk.

The Duval County Clerk of Courts now operates a Property Fraud Alert system that monitors a personal or business name and notifies the person when a document is recorded under that name. The program is free of charge.

According to the FBI, property fraud — including bogus mortgages, wrongful title transfers and illegal flipping — are the fastest-growing white-collar crime in the United States.

In some cases, scammers file fake deeds, making it appear as if they own homes that are not actually theirs. The criminals then trick people into giving them money to rent or buy those homes.

The FBI first issued a report on "home stealing" in 2008, during the housing meltdown. In one three-year study, the FBI found that 9,600 homeowners were victims of title fraud.

Under Duval's new program, if a document is recorded that matches your monitoring criteria, you will receive an alert within 48 hours so that you can review the document to make sure it is legitimate.

“This new Property Fraud Alert is a game changer,” Clerk Jody Phillips said in a news release. “By giving individuals and businesses the ability to proactively monitor recorded documents, this will be a valuable tool to stop property fraud in Duval County in its tracks.

For full details and to sign up, go here.

If you suspect that you are a victim of fraud, contact the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500. You also may consider seeking legal advice or filing a case in civil court.

Other counties offer similar fraud alerts. Get information here: