Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond’s official records department has set up a free property fraud alert program to help residents protect themselves from a fast growing white-collar trend: Property fraud.

“We did a number of tests on it because we want to make sure it’s going to work as well as possible,” Diamond said.

The free system, which is online now,  issues an alert via text, email or phone and is used by several Florida counties.

Diamond said most people never check their county records unless they are planning to sell or refinance, by then, he said, “it’s too late.”

“It’s amazing how many people have been hacked or have been the victim of identity theft and I think that it is important that we be a leader to protect citizens as best we can,” he said.

According to the FBI, property and mortgage fraud is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the U.S.

Diamond said the county has only one fraud case involving an elderly homeowner on record, still it has happened across the state and in his view:  “it can happen to anyone.”

“Thieves will stop at nothing to try to take from honest people," Diamond said. "They may try to sell it (home property) quickly, they may try to rent it.”

Security experts said reviewing property records is an important way for residents to protect themselves from fraud.

“Too many Central Florida residents are victims of cyber-criminals. This new free service will help Orange County residents protect themselves from property fraud,” Diamond said.

Diamond will be hosting an informational session to discuss the program and important fraud prevention tips.  Along with Comptroller Diamond, Sergeant Bell from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Squad will also be presenting and answering any questions from the community.

The informational session will be on Tuesday, April 3 at 10 a.m. in the Orange County Commission Chambers at 201 South Rosalind Avenue in Orlando.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information visit www.occompt.com .

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