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A records search with the Clerk of Courts will help

October 26, 2018
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Hello Mr. Feichthaler,

I always enjoy your real estate law articles. I think information about how a property owner can prevent deed fraud may be of interest. I see and hear many ads about "Lock Your Title" for $10 a month, etc. How can readers protect theft of their deed/title and prevent fraudulent loans taken out on their property, without their knowledge. Should they retain a lawyer or pay the "Lock Your Title" companies for $10-$15 a month fee?

- Thanks in advance. Sam D.

Dear Sam,

Until receiving this question, I had not heard of this service before, although I have heard of similar services from companies like LifeLock. What you describe is different than title insurance, which insures the buyer of property from potential title defects that existed at the time of the purchase. The ad you refer to offers protection of your deed from improper, unauthorized transfer or borrowing for your property. These companies only claim to monitor the public records to see if any sale or mortgage appears relating to the customer's property, as they can do nothing to actually stop a document from being recorded. Although fraudulent deeds and loans can occur, it is very rare, as most lenders will require financial proof and other information on how the new owner took title to the property before making a loan.

I cannot give specific advice whether this service is worth the cost or not. But, if you are concerned about someone filing deeds, mortgages, liens,or anything else in the public records against your property, you can easily check by performing an official records search at www.leeclerk.org. The search is free, and by entering your name and a range of dates, you can see anything that has been recorded with your name on it. You could do this on a monthly basis to ensure nothing has been recorded. If you ever discover that a fraudulent deed or mortgage was recorded on your property, you should seek legal counsel immediately. Filing false documents is a felony in Florida, so those who may engage in this fraudulent activity are taking a substantial risk.

Based on my review of the service offered and cost, I will not be signing up for any "Lock Your Title" services.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 30 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 17 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.

 
 
 

 

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