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Good Deeds: Notice of Real Estate Fraud

May 26, 2021 05:05PM ● By Pamela Johnson

Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell

by Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell
At the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds there have been a number of modernization initiatives implemented.  One such initiative has been the free on-line Consumer Notification Service offered by the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds to property owners in the 28 communities that make up Norfolk County.  The purpose of the Consumer Notification Service is to help protect Norfolk County property and home owners against the negative consequences of property fraud.
The Consumer Notification Service is available through the Registry website  The purpose of this Consumer Notification Service is to proactively give as much information to the consumer in a timely manner.  The Registry of Deeds deals with the biggest asset most of us have, which is our home.  The Consumer Notification Service is a way to make sure that if someone is perpetrating a fraud on the title of your home that you get notice of that fraud.  Any owner of real estate property in the twenty-eight communities that make up Norfolk County can sign up for the Consumer Notification Service free of charge.  Go to the Registry’s website, click Services and click on the Consumer Notification Service page, there is a “Sign Up For Alerts” button.
Why should a homeowner consider signing up for this program?  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) reports that property and mortgage fraud is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in America.  Multiple jurisdictions across the country have reported individuals recording fraudulent documents and making it appear that they own another person’s home or property.  Once this is done the unscrupulous criminal may try to use the property as an asset to secure money.
I can vouch for the Consumer Notification Service at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds not as the person tasked with the responsibility of overseeing this real estate operation but as someone who has signed up for this service.  The system sends an email alert out to me if there is some document recorded in my name.  Once I receive a notice I can go on the Registry website to view the document in question.  My dad who climbed utility poles for the Boston Edison for 38 years would remind me that some folks may not be great on the computer.  In that case after receiving your email notification you can call the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at 1-781-461-6101 to follow up and get some guidance.  I have gotten email notices of deeds, mortgages, mortgage discharges and other land documents.  Luckily these notices have involved other William O’Donnells and did not involve my home.   You may consider an email notification a small inconvenience when you weigh the consequences of a fraud on your house or condominium.  There may be a time that when I get one of these notifications and it will show a fraudulent deed involving my home or a fraudulent mortgage on my property.  The fraud has not been prevented but the Consumer Notification Service will be a way to get notified and get on the problem right away.  On the Registry website we have Law Enforcement Contact Information.
I mention this free Consumer Notification Service for Norfolk County property owners as a number of homeowners have recently contacted me about a private corporation that will provide its “basic protection service” which monitors your title and notifies you of problems, of course for a fee.  Some folks may see free as better and decide to sign up for the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds Consumer Notification Service.  Under Massachusetts law a forged signature does not convey ownership so the forged deed would be void as would any mortgage that was put on as a result of the fraudulent deed.  The real risk is not that you will lose your property, it is that you will be saddled with the hassle and cost of proving to everyone that you did not execute the forged deed.  There would be time costs as well as monetary costs involving law enforcement as well as attorneys to represent you in making sure the fraud is proved.  The Consumer Notification Service of the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds would be a prompt way to be informed of a fraud against your home and then immediately take the necessary steps to protect the biggest asset most of us have, our home, and fight the fraud.
To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at facebook/com/NorfolkDeeds or follow us on and
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street in Dedham.  The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information.  All land record research information can be found on the Registry’s website  Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at [email protected].

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