karen yarbrough cook county recorder of deeds property fraud alert

Tracey Williams (left) and Recorder Yarbrough (right) discuss CCRD’s anti-fraud efforts and their new partnership.

Thanks to a new state law authored by Cook County Recorder of Deeds (CCRD) Karen A. Yarbrough, Tracey B. Williams of A.R.E. Partners in Chicago became the first Realtor/Broker in Illinois to become an official registrar for CCRD’s Free Property Fraud Alert monitoring service.

CCRD’s Free Property Fraud Alert is a software program that scans a registrant’s property title history each day, and if a document affecting the registrant’s interest in the property is recorded, an email or phone call is initiated to notify them of a change. If the change was due to a refinance or transaction initiated by the registrant, they can disregard the alert, but if the alert is from an attempt to change the deed to another party, the registrant will be able to take quick action through CCRD’s Fraud Unit to stop the scam before it goes too far.

“The best time to place a fraud alert on your property is right after getting the keys, because the title insurance and research process guarantees a clean title at closing,” said Williams. “From that day forward, however, homeowners are vulnerable to property fraud and must cover any legal expenses out of their own pocket. The Free Property Fraud Alert is a great resource that gives peace of mind by automatically checking on your property every day, and I’m proud to be the first Realtor in Illinois to offer this to my clients.”

One of the key reasons people can own property in the United States is our open land records system, which gives banks the confidence to lend money without fear of unregistered claims. This open system requires a Recorder of Deeds to accept almost any claim or document presented. Because Recorders are not authorized by law to research or verify such claims, a fraudulent claim or abusive lien can delay or derail a real estate transaction, and if left unchecked, can allow a fraudster to drain the equity in a property.

“Homebuyers are so fortunate to have an advocate like Tracey Williams who is taking the time to educate them about vulnerabilities that most homeowners are unaware of,” said Yarbrough. “This new program allows Realtors and brokers in the community to empower consumers with the tools they need to make sure their most important asset stays theirs.”

Public Act 99-0075 allows banks, title companies and Realtors to officially partner with County Recorders who offer a Property Fraud Alert system. If you are interested in becoming an official partner in this program, please send an email to ROD.support@cookcountyil.gov or call (312) 603-5065.

Homeowners need not wait until a transaction to sign up, and those interested can contact Tracey B. Williams at 312-300-7237 x 227, or at twilliams@arepartners.com

Homeowners may also sign up online for free at CookRecorder.com