City Records Department Announces Document Notice Program
The City of Philadelphia Records Department today unveiled the new Document Notice Program.
The program will combat fraud by informing property owners of real estate transactions that are registered with the City.
"Unfortunately, real estate fraud is a growing problem in our City," said Joan T. Decker, Records Commissioner. "By notifying property owners, the City is combating crime and giving owners opportunities to take corrective action."
Starting today, the Records Department will notify current property owners each time a deed or mortgage is recorded by mailing them a letter giving details of the transaction. This notification will give property owners the ability to verify transactions and provide notice of possible fraud involving their property. Owners will receive information on legal services and advice on how to take action if a transaction is fraudulent.
Under Pennsylvania law, the Records Department is mandated to record all deed and mortgage documents if they are filled out completely, even if the information later proves false. This means that fraudulent documents that are completed correctly are recorded and may go undetected until a legal transaction against the deed or mortgage is initiated. The Document Notice Program will protect homeowners, who will be able to uncover and resolve fraud involving their property immediately after a fraudulent transaction is recorded, rather than having it come to light years later.
If a fraudulent transaction has occurred, the owner will be advised to obtain a copy of the document from the Records Department and to obtain legal assistance. The Philadelphia Bar Association is participating in this program. The Association's Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) will provide referrals to attorneys in private practice for those who do not quality for free legal assistance. LRIS may be contacted at 215-238-6333 or at www.philadelphiabar.org and click on "Lawyer Referral Service".
The Records Department is also working with the Philadelphia Bar Association Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP), which will be available to help eligible citizens who otherwise cannot afford legal help. To obtain a volunteer attorney through VIP, contact any organization that provides free legal services, all of which are listed at: www.philadelphiabar.org. These organizations include Philadelphia Legal Assistance (215-981-3800), Community Legal Services (215-981-3700), the SeniorLAW Center for persons age 60+ (215-988-1244), and the Homeless Advocacy Project (215-523-9595).
Regional Housing Legal Services (RHLS) and the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC) are also contributing to the program. RHLS is a statewide legal services organization that provides legal and technical assistance to non-profits and community based groups that are engaged in housing and economic development. PACDC, which has 80 organizational members in the Philadelphia area, is dedicated to advocacy, policy development, and technical assistance for community development corporations and other organizations in their efforts to rebuild communities and revitalize neighborhoods. PACDC may be reached at 215-732-5829 or www.pacdc.org.
The Records Department is available to meet with community and neighborhood groups to further explain the Document Notice Program. To schedule a meeting, groups should contact 215-686-2262.
The Records Department is responsible for City/County Recorder of Deeds operations.
John F. Street, Mayor of Philadelphia
Lance Haver, Secretary, Consumer Affairs
Phil Goldsmith, Managing Director
Joan Decker, Records Commissioner