| Debbie Gardner
SPRINGFIELD – In a world where property and mortgage-related fraud are becoming increasingly common, the Hampden County Registry of Deeds has initiated a new online service to alert consumers when legal documents such as liens, discharges, mortgages, deeds and judgments are recorded in their names, or that of family members, including children.
Called the Consumer Notification System (CNF), the free service offers individual real-time email notifications when a document is recorded at the Registry and indexed to any of the names specified in their request.
Hampden County Register of Deeds Cheryl Coakley-Rivera introduced this new consumer protection service during a presentation on the Homestead Act at the June 12 meeting of the East Forest Park Civic Association.
“[This system] extremely important to protect you against scammers and people who want to put liens on your property,” Coakley-Rivera said before turning the presentation over to Greg Rogers, director of Operations at the Hampden County Registry of Deeds.
According to Rogers, CNS is a free service activated when a consumer goes to the registry website and creates an account online. Activiating the service is as simple as entering “your first name, your last name and the town that you live in” and a valid email address in a form under the CNS icon, Rogers explained.
Once you have registered, “If anything is put on at the Registry – a fraudulent document, a lien, something having to do with your child, as long as you register that name, an email notification will come to you telling you what information was just recorded,” he said.
Consumers who receive a notification can go on the Registry website and examine the newly recorded document free of charge, he said.
“This way it protects you and secures all the documents that are recorded at the registry. That way you know they are valid,” Rogers explained.
According to Rogers, consumers can list up to five names on their account initially, and then add names in the future. “At any time your can edit it and change the names, [and] you get a notifications of any change you make,” he said, adding individuals can also enter variations of a name. He gave an example of entering his own name as both Gregory Rogers and Greg, Rogers, “because if anyone records something under Greg as opposed to Gregory, I want to know about both.”
Individuals can take the same approach to entering variations for the names of their children, he added, and if adult children want to register the protection for their parents or grandparents, it is possible to do that as well.
The service is in Hampden County though the Registry right now, Rogers said. Most of the state’s other counties have a similar service available through the Secretary of State’s office, he added.
“It’s a very important service to have,” Rogers said.
Individuals can sign up for the new Consumer Notification System by visiting www.hampdendeeds.com and clicking on the CNS button.
Deed service scam
Coakley-Rivera also made meeting attendees aware of a new scam in the area, in which homeowners have been receiving notices offering to secure a copy of their deed for a charge of $35 and some personal information.
“We received several complaints. [This notice] arrives in the mail and they are targeting, of course, seniors and homeowners,” Coakley-Rivera said, explaining that the service is unnecessary, as any homeowner can print a copy of their deed for free from the Registry website.
“People see this and they get a little nervous and they don’t know where their deed is. And they give them information that they can use, then, to take all their money [or] to run up their credit card bill,” Coakley-Rivera said.
She stressed that individuals who receive questionable notices such as this offering deed or other home document related services should contact her office immediately at 755-1722. “We work very closely with the Attorney General’s Office, the local police and the State Police” on these types of issues, she said.