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CA Consumer Alert Warns Of Document Fraud, Advocates Journal Thumbprint As Security Measure

200px-Flag_of_California-svg.pngThe California Department of Real Estate recently issued a consumer alert informing the public on what to do should they become a victim of forgery or fraud, citing proper notarization as a key element in fraud prevention.

The alert, issued in response to a growing trend of criminal fraud relating to real property deeds, educates the public on the different types of deed scams targeting homeowners, includes a list of warning signals to look for, and provides specific advice on the actions victims can take in response to fraud or forgery. The warning also provides a list of people considered high-risk targets, including:

  • Senior citizen homeowners with substantial equity in their home or who own their home
  • Homeowners whose first language is not English
  • Those living in distressed areas with multiple abandoned or vacant homes

The DRE notes that county recorders are not responsible for verifying the validity of documents and that having protective measures in place can help prevent document fraud. It states:

“Some recorders require signers of real property deeds to provide a thumbprint, in addition to a signature, in the journal of the Notary public who acknowledged the deed for recordation. This should have a deterrent effect respecting forgeries since an imposter will not likely want to leave a thumbprint, which can later be used as evidence linking him or her to a felony crime(s).”

While only two states – California and Illinois — currently require Notaries to record thumbprints on certain transactions, the NNA recommends the practice to protect consumers and provides guidance on how to properly take a thumbprint.

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Karen Fagundes

15 Nov 2016

I have done extensive research, including checking with the Notary Department in Sacramento. only to find that my brother has fraudulently signed my name (4x) on deeds in order to scam the County out of tax money. He said I "gifted" some property to him, when in fact I sold it to him for the amount he borrowed from me. I have the Grand Deed and notary page to prove it. But because it happened in 1999, and I did not know it isn't a law to file/record a deed (which he didn't do), the Sheriff's Office, DA, Grand Jury, and everyone else I have tried will not help me to charge and convict him of PC115, filing an altered or fraudulent document into a Federal Bldg. Which he did several times. Is there anything else you can suggest I do. I am both shocked and appauled that the DA is not taking this more seriously.

National Notary Association

16 Nov 2016

Hello. If you believe you are a victim of fraud, you may also wish to report it to the state Attorney General's office and see if they can assist you.

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