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Notary Bulletin

Signing Agent Accused Of Selling Borrowers' Information To Identity Thieves

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An Indianapolis, Indiana, signing agent is facing criminal charges for allegedly selling personal information collected from borrowers to identity thieves, betraying the trust of the mortgage finance industry and her duty as a Notary Public to protect consumers.

The victims reportedly lost $160,000 in the identity theft scheme, allegedly perpetrated by Melissa Hodge. While three other individuals were indicted with Hodge, local media focused on her role. As onenews report noted, “Consumers trusted her with their personal financial information. But, she betrayed their trust.”

Hodge was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of sharing consumers’ social security numbers with a co-defendant in 2012. The co-defendant used the information to open credit card accounts and make purchases under false identities, according to court records.

Officials with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service allege that Hodge obtained the Social Security numbers of 16 borrowers involved in mortgage refinancing transactions and sold them for $20 each, according to local news reports.

While the case is a rarity, it illustrates one of the reasons why the Signing Professionals Workgroup has introduced more rigorous standards of training, compliance and background screenings for signing agents.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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