Protecting against property fraud

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 --- 8:00 p.m.

Imagine having your home sold outright from you, without you knowing about it. It sounds like a nightmare, but unfortunately it's a real possibility.

According to the FBI, property fraud is the fastest growing white collar crime in the US.

"Someone will come in and forge a deed and a mortgage from a bank the same day, and they could be walking out with [hundreds of thousands] of dollars and disappear," said Dane County Register of Deeds Kristi Chlebowski.

Chlebowski says someone will forge a signature on a deed for your home, transferring ownership from you to the criminal. You may not find out about it until you go to refinance or sell your home.

"By the time you would find out years later, it could be too late," she said.

That's why Chlebowski offers a free Property Fraud Alert to Dane County homeowners. By signing up, you get a notification anytime something is filed against your home.

Middleton mom and homeowner Erin Summers takes great pride in her home. It's the biggest purchase she and her husband have made, and they envision their newborn growing up in it. Thinking of someone stealing her home terrifies her.

"It's the most valuable thing... it's your home, and to have that taken away from you would just mean everything," Summers said.

To sign up for the property fraud alert system, visit:

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