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LOS ANGELES - The County of Los Angeles works diligently to protect homeowners and combat the scourge of real estate fraud every day.

It is imperative that the public has accurate information about the services the County is able to provide, as well the fraud notification program we have put in place to protect our residents from scams such as home title fraud.

For more than 20 years, the Los Angeles County’s Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RRCC) and Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) have collaborated on the Homeowner Notification Program. As part of the program, instituted in 1996, homeowners are notified by mail any time a document that changes ownership is recorded with the RRCC; this includes, deeds, quitclaim deeds, and deed of trusts.

To ensure homeowners are properly informed, a copy of the recorded document is mailed to the property address as well as the homeowner’s mailing address on file with the Assessor’s office for the property tax bill, if it is different than the property address.

This gives homeowners the best opportunity to review the real estate documents to be sure they are legitimate and to avoid fraud. Each insert provides the homeowner with information explaining what type of transaction is occurring and are instructs them to immediately call DCBA or RRCC for information or help.

In 2013, the Homeowner Notification Program was expanded to include recorded documents involved in a foreclosure.

The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs offers free, reliable assistance to help homeowners avoid becoming a victim of real estate or foreclosure fraud.

“The County of Los Angeles fights to protect consumer and homeowners from all types of fraud,” said Brian J. Stiger, Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. “The Homeowner Notification Program is the first line of defense against fraud. Our team of trained and dedicated counselors and investigators are there to provide the help and support homeowners need when they need it.”

DCBA investigators coordinate with law enforcement, and prosecuting and regulatory agencies to identify and investigate real estate fraud cases for referral for civil or criminal prosecution. DCBA works directly with lenders to explore all options to avoid foreclosure.

In addition, the office of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk ensures documents submitted for recording that change ownership meet the legal recording requirements as specified in the government code. Additionally, customers are required to show their California identification to prove that they are a party to the action when recording a document that will change ownership.

“We continually work with our industry partners to ensure we are implementing processes that will strengthen our oversight role in recognizing fraudulent activity. Although the Recorder’s role does not include the review of legal sufficiency in the recording process, when fraudulent or legal concerns arise, they are referred to DCBA and the appropriate authorities.” said Dean Logan, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. “The public should feel safe and confident knowing our department is proactive about fraud prevention at all times.”

Los Angeles County sends hundreds of thousands of notifications out each year. Each year, more than 10,000 homeowners contact DCBA for help in fighting potential real estate fraud. A recent survey sent along with notifications show more than 96 percent of homeowners approve of the program.

Contact the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (800) 593-8222 to receive more information or you believe you have been the victim of real estate fraud. To reach the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, call (800) 201-8999, option 2 or visit lavote.net. You can also file a complaint online.