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Cass County offers property protection alerts; watch for information coming with your tax statements

Last Updated on March 23, 2023 by Cass County Recorders Office

Property tax statements will be mailed to property owners in Cass County at the end of March.

The Cass County Recorder’s Office will be including information about a free service that helps alert property owners to potential fraud.

The document above will be included with Cass County property tax statements in Spring 2023.

Here’s a news release the Cass County Recorder’s Office shared about the program.

Property fraud alert is an online subscription service offered to the public that allows them to have their name monitored within the Recorder’s office in order to track possible fraudulent recordings that affects their property.

The threat of mortgage fraud and identity theft crimes continue to rise and all too often, victims of these types of fraudulent activities are unaware their homes or identity have been stolen. While Property Fraud Alert does not prevent fraud from happening, it provides an early warning system for property owners to take appropriate actions should they determine possible fraudulent activity has taken place.

A common property fraud scenario involves a criminal filing a bogus deed, making it appear that the actual owner had transferred ownership of a parcel to someone else. The criminal then takes that deed to a bank, fraudulently obtains a mortgage and then disappears with a large amount of money. While it can happen to anyone, perpetrators of property fraud often prey on the elderly, people in long-term care facilities, absentee property owners and owners who spent large parts of the year out of town.

With Property Fraud Alert, subscribers will be notified when the name they have submitted is used in any recording activities within the Recorder’s office. When subscribing to the service, the subscriber will have the option to choose one of the following notification methods: e-mail or telephone call.

The best protection against property fraud is being proactive. This service is easy to sign up for and offers a little extra peace of mind with just a few clicks of the computer mouse.

You may sign up for this free notification service provided by the Cass County Recorder’s Office at www.propertyfraudalert.com.

For further details, contact the Cass County Recorder’s Office at 574-753-7810

Here are some frequently asked questions about the program:

What is Property Fraud Alert (PFA)?

Property Fraud Alert is a notification service that alerts subscribers (via email or phone contact) each time a document is recorded with their name on it in the Cass County Recorder’s office. The submitter must select one method of notification, either an email address or a phone number.

How many subscription names can I enter?

You may submit with several names including personal and business names.

How many names can I enter using the same notification email address or phone number?

You may enter up to a total of four personal and/or business names per one unique email address, or up to a total of three personal and/or business names per one unique phone number.

Can I enter more than one name at a time?

No. You must make separate subscription entries for each individual name (personal or business). For a married couple or for those persons who share the same last name, you must make individual subscription entries for each person.

My first name is often spelled many ways; how should I enter it?

It is highly recommended that you enter only the first few letters of your first name to limit the number of first name matches. For example, if the letters “St” are entered, a name match may result for the names Steven, Stan, Stacy, Sterling, etc.

My last name is spelled differently on occasion; how should I enter it?

To illustrate, let’s use the last name “Van Buren” as our example. This name may at times be spelled with a space in it (“Van Buren”) and at other times with no space (“VanBuren”). For cases like this, it is highly recommended that you make two separate subscription entries with both name variations. For the Property Fraud Alert system to work as intended, and for notification alerts to be sent, the last name spelling, or business name spelling of the subscription name must match exactly.

My last name is very common; will I receive notification alerts that could possibly belong to someone else?

It is very possible to receive an alert that may actually pertain to another individual with the same last name (and first name) as you. Again, make sure you enter the last name spelling exactly.

My name is John Smith Junior (Jr.), how would I enter that into the subscription form?

It is imperative that you DO NOT enter the suffix of your name (Jr.,Sr., etc.) while entering your name into the subscription form. Only enter your first name information into the first name field and your last name information into the last name field. The same logic applies with middle names; DO NOT enter a middle name (or middle initial) into the first or last name fields.

I own a business; how should I enter my business name?

Business names should be entered exactly as the business name is spelled; “ACME Printing Company”, “Smith & Smith”, “XYZ Business Corporation”. There may be times, however, that the county may possibly index these names differently. For example, “XYZ Business Corporation” could possibly be indexed as “XYZ Business Corp”. In this situation the name match would occur only if you entered “XYZ Business Corp”. Therefore, if your business name could contain variations similar to this, we highly recommend that you make an additional subscription entry with that variation.

What if my name, my email address, or my phone number changes? How do I update my subscription with this new information?

You can simply go to the PFA website and enter your new data information.

How long does my name remain on the PFA notification list?

Your name will remain on the notification list indefinitely.

I own multiple homes and/or property in several different counties; will one subscription entry in one county cover me for all counties?

No. You must subscribe to each county individually. The Property Fraud Alert system is managed county by county. Visit the home page of Property Fraud Alert (www.propertyfraudalert.com) to see the full list of participating counties.

What information is provided on a PFA alert notification?

The alert notification will contain the following information: County Location; Document Number, Document Type, Recorded Date, and the matched Party Name (personal or business name).

What should I do if I receive a PFA alert notification?

The following are suggestions should you feel possible fraudulent activity has taken place via this notification;

  • Contact any other parties whose names may be on the document
    • Other parties may be aware of the document and the referenced property or may have mutual concern about the document’s potential impact.
  • Contact your attorney
    • If you are not sure about the purpose of the referenced document, a private attorney may be able to determine impact and possible action in a timely fashion and minimize the damage and inconvenience of a fraudulent document.
  • Contact your lending institution
    • If you believe possible fraudulent activity has taken place, contacting your bank, mortgage company, or lending institution in a timely fashion may help your cause.

You may always contact the Cass County recorder’s office with any questions.