Philadelphia Offers Free Deed & Mortgage Fraud Guard

  • Image of hanging files in an open cabinet drawer. "order" by paul goyette is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Did you know that the City of Philadelphia offers a free way to monitor property records to warn property owners of potential deed or mortgage fraud? In 2019, Philadelphia’s Department of Records started providing Deed Fraud Guard, which allows property owners in Philadelphia to monitor certain records online.

So what is deed fraud or mortgage fraud? According to the City of Philadelphia

“Deed fraud occurs when a person sells a home pretending to be the owner without the permission of the legal owner. The legal owner’s name is removed from the deed without the legal owner’s knowledge or informed consent.

Mortgage fraud occurs when someone signs a mortgage against a property that they do not own to borrow money against the property. The mortgage transactions are completed without the knowledge or informed consent of the legal owner of the property."

If deed fraud occurs, the legal owner has to go to court to prove that they own the property. 

If you are a property owner in Philadelphia, you can sign up to receive email notifications if your name appears in a deed or mortgage document that is recorded against a property. If you get an email notification, you can view the document online (use the “Free Public Search Login” button or register as a user to purchase documents) or by visiting the Department of Records in person to confirm whether there’s any fraud. 

If you think there’s been deed or mortgage fraud, the City strongly recommends that you make an appointment to visit the Department of Records at City Hall, Room 154 (Monday - Friday, 8:30am-4pm) to make a fraud report immediately. To make an appointment, email or call 215-686-2290. The Department also recommends that you take several other steps, including reaching out to a real estate lawyer and reporting the fraud to the police, the District Attorney’s Office, and the PA Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection, for example.

Check out the Department of Records’ Deed and Mortgage Fraud Resource page for more information. For example, the Tangled Title/Property Faud FAQs answers questions about property fraud and lists some legal aid organizations in Philadelphia that may be able to help.


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