COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Just like you check your credit card or bank statements for fraudulent charges, get in the habit of checking your property records.
“If you’re a new homeowner, or a longtime homeowner, diligence on both property owners is going to be important.”
That’s the message from Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano, to help reduce the chances of home title theft or fraud.
“Changing the information of who the owner is, or changing the address the documents would go to,” said Stinziano.
The auditor said the benefit behind the crime is unclear, but there are still attempts to change that information.
The auditor’s office processes about 50,000 home titles every year. And every year.
“There’s about three to four out of those 40,000 to 50,000 documents that do catch attention,” said Stinziano. “We work with local law enforcement, and make sure that if there is something that should not have occurred, it gets rectified.”
I asked the auditor if the volume of documents makes it difficult to catch fraudulent activity. He said the high number actually helps.
“This is a case where having so much coming through the office is a benefit because where things get kind of sideways or there is a fraud incident, it jumps out pretty quickly.”
So, how do you, the homeowner, protect yourself from title theft or fraud?
“Under Ohio law, you’re required to have a notary,” said Stinziano. “So, that’s the first kind of safety provision that’s in there.”
The second is the homeowner’s responsibility — checking the auditor’s website regularly to make sure your information is correct and hasn’t changed without your consent.
“The good news is 99 percent of the time, it’s going to be.”
The auditor’s office is launching another tool this fall to help protect homeowners — an e-alert system. Once that’s up and running, homeowners will be able to register specific parcels, and the system will notify them of any activity.
Until then, be sure to check the website (https://www.franklincountyauditor.com/) as often as you can.