A new alert system for Maricopa County residents
The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office is launching Maricopa Title Alert, a free service to help residents stay informed of document recordings and protect against title fraud and other unlawful documents. Counties across the country are seeing a rise in title fraud, where homes are being sold out from under the property owner. A house title is proof of legal ownership of a property, but by forging the deed to a home, a criminal can illegally transfer ownership of a home into their name and claim they hold title to it.
They can sell the home and take the cash before the buyer ever catches onto the scam. Or, they take out loans against the property they never pay back, getting the real homeowner and the lender into a financial mess.
The tool will function much like Google Alerts and will allow users to monitor recordings containing the names, individual names or business names, entered by the user. When a recorded document contains the entered name, the user will receive an email at the end of the day with a link to the relevant document. This way, the user can take immediate action if necessary. A new law was passed that requires all Arizona counties to offer this service by 2025. Pinal and Yavapai already do.
Title fraud is not common, according to Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer.
“But if it does happen to you, it will turn your life upside down, because this means that the property you thought you had titled to you has been taken out from underneath you, and it could take years and many thousands of dollars to be able to reclaim that through the judicial process. So it’s something that is best caught early, if it happens at all, and this tool allows you to catch it early,” Richer said.