PATERSON, NJ – Identity theft is a big fear in our tech-heavy world, and according to the FBI, property and mortgage fraud is one of the fastest growing white-collar crimes in the United States. Passaic County Clerk, Danielle Ireland-Imhof has taken the initiative to help protect Passaic County residents from this kind of fraud by implementing a new Property Fraud Warning System.
“When I took office earlier this year, I was looking for initiatives that I could bring that would enhance how my office serves the community and the fraud warning system was at the top of my list,” said Ireland-Imhof.
It’s a simple system that alerts you to when documents in your name are filed in the county clerk’s office, and it only takes about three-minutes to sign up for the free program.
“I wanted to make these documents work for the property owners rather than have them just sitting on file,” said Ireland-Imhof. “For example, if someone were to bring in a property document with your name on it, we have a statutory responsibility to record the documents as long as they are filed properly. We don’t, however, have the legal authority to fact check the documents, so whether it’s a residential property document or a commercial property document it is recorded in our office.”
“Then, if you had signed up for this free program, you would receive an email or a text, telling you that the document was filed. You can quickly check the Clerk’s Property Search website (records.passaiccountynj.org) to view a PDF of the actual document that was recorded,” she said.
This new Property Fraud Warning Service can serve as an early alert to property owners of possible fraudulent activity so that they can take the appropriate next steps with law enforcement agencies. Additionally, the system can be used as a monitoring mechanism to keep track of the filing of legitimate documents once you finish with a property closing, taking out a mortgage or paying one off.
This program has been available in Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Middlesex and Union Counties and in several other states across the nation. “And since there’s been great feedback from the people who take advantage of the program and it protects our residents, I wanted to bring it to Passaic County,” said the County Clerk.
“This is a process that takes just a couple of minutes but will offer long-lasting security and peace of mind for property owners. I strongly encourage all property owners to take advantage of this free service,” added Clerk Ireland-Imhof.
Why does she do it?
“It’s the nerd in me,” said Ireland-Imhof with a laugh. “I really get excited about good government and making government work for people in unexpected ways and giving people as much peace of mind as I can as County Clerk, A lot of people have a negative perception of government. If you come to our office, it’s not because you want to, it’s because you have to; It’s another chore. And, I want do what I can to make it the best experience possible.”
Passaic County property owners can enroll in this new program by visiting www.passaiccountyclerk.org, clicking the link entitled “Property Fraud Warning System” and following the prompts on the screen.