Department of Records - City of Philadelphia
RECORDS : Document Recording

Fradulent Document Recording - Mortgages: How they are stolen

Individuals engaged in this fraud record mortgage documents against properties they do not own in order to borrow money against the property. Mortgage transactions are completed without the knowledge of the legal owner of the property. Should the property owner attempt to sell the property or obtain an additional mortgage, a title search will usually disclose all outstanding mortgages.


Real estate fraud is a growing problem in our City. The City of Philadelphia Records Department new Document Notice Program will combat fraud by informing property owners of real estate transactions that are registered with the City. By notifying property owners, the City is combating crime and giving owners opportunities to take corrective action. 


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.