Department of Records - City of Philadelphia
RECORDS : Document Recording

Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe Announces Expedited Court Process for Victims of Property Fraud


The latest attempt to reign in property identity theft - in which scammers forge deeds to claim people's homes - is underway. The local court system is offering speedy hearings for victims and free legal help.

The President Judge of Common Pleas Court, Pamela Pryor Dembe, says anyone who believes they're the victim of property identity theft can call the Office of the Prothonotary, 280 City Hall, at 215-686-8863 and get an expedited hearing and - if needed - a pro bono attorney:

"We are going to expedite the process, and the handling of these kinds of cases, wherein there is the allegation of fraudulent transfer of real property."

Property identity theft occurs when someone forges an owner's signature on a deed and claims ownership, with the victim often not realizing it until long after the crime.

Judge Dembe says she'll speed up a hearing process that could otherwise take a year or more. Call the Office of the Prothonotary, 280 City Hall, 215-686-8863 for more infomation.


Stolen Homes / Mortgage Fraud
If you are the victim of property fraud, please do the following:

  • Obtain a copy of the deed or mortgage in question from the Records
    Department In Room 154, City Hall.

    Be sure to search the records by property address to make sure there are no other
    fraudulent documents. Records Department staff will assist you in obtaining a copy.

    If you are not able to visit City Hall, you can request a copy of the document by mail.
    Include your name and address, the address of the property in question and a brief description of the problem.

    Requests should be sent to:
    Records Department, Room 154 City Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Attn: Supervisor.

  • You may also access the information online. There is a fee for online service payable
    by credit card. To apply for this service, go to:

  • Notify the District Attorney's Office at 215-686-9902.

  • Obtain the services of a real estate lawyer AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

  • Contact the Consumer Affairs Unit in Room 116 City Hall, 215-686-7598,
    for help in notifying any prospective buyers about your claim of ownership.

Contact the Lawyer's Referral and Information Services of the Philadelphia Bar Association:
215-238-6333. The Service will refer you to a real estate lawyer or to an appropriate organization. You must telephone the service. The service does not have walk-in hours.


Additional Forms