Free service helps Polk property owners detect fraud

Holly Bounds - POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - With every swipe of your debit card there's that chance you could be the next victim of identity theft.  If you own property, it's just as risky. Property fraud is the neighborhood of identity theft we don't think much about; your property records don't show up in your mailbox every month like a debit card statement.

But there's a new service for Polk County property owners that can help you catch the crooks faster than before.

Polk County Clerk of the Court Stacy Butterfield launched a free online service for Polk property owners this week that acts much like fraud alerts for bank cards.

Instead of keeping a steady eye on your records, which few tend to do,  through you can sign up for notifications any time there's a change.

"Many people don't think to check their property records. They think about social security numbers, bank account numbers and they have all kinds of services they sign up for," Butterfield said.

The new system, Property Alert Service, doesn't prevent fraud but detects it by telling the owner any time their records have been altered.  In the past, some have gone years without knowing their records had been changed, Butterfield said.

While this is new for Polk County, similar services are already in place for those who have property in Pinellas and Palm Beach Counties.

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