Merced County California

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Real Estate Fraud
On behalf of the County of Merced, we would like to inform you of schemes related to real estate fraud.

We know that owning a home is "a dream come true." While it is a source of pride and financial security, unfortunately it also provides the opportunity for an unscrupulous few to try and steal these dreams through real estate scams and fraud.

The District Attorney's Office is committed to providing you with the necessary information to help identify potential scams and other forms of identity theft. Our goal is to raise awareness and eliminate fraud.

Before you Buy, Sell, Refinance, or Remodel -- Do your homework!

Who are you doing business with? 
Is your broker, lender, appraiser, or contractor reputable? Verify their license status, current standing, and references before entering into any agreements.

Make sure all agreements are in writing and do not contain any blank lines or spaces. Carefully read all documents before signing and retain copies of all documents.

If you are unsure of what you're signing, wait! Do not sign any documents until all of your questions have been answered.

Be cautious when signing quitclaim deeds and grant deeds. These deeds transfer ownership interest of your property.

If you have fallen behind on your payments contact your Lender! You will be solicited by numerous companies and individuals promising to save your home -- be wary of SCAMS.


Do not let anyone talk you into ...

Making a false statement on your loan application such as:
  • overstating your income
  • the source of your down payment or deposit
  • not disclosing the nature and amount of your debts
  • the length of your employment.

When you apply
for a mortgage loan every piece of information you submit must be accurate and complete. Lying on a mortgage application is fraud and may result in criminal penalties.

Never let anyone sign anything for you during the loan process. You should review and understand every document before you sign it.

Never accept payment for use of your name, credit or Social Security number -- this is a form of fraud!

If you are facing foreclosure due to inability to pay your home loan, be wary of someone approaching you with a promise of "saving your equity" by having you sign away your rights to your home. Be especially careful to protect your rights to your home!


If you are a victim of real estate fraud:

Document the incident. Prepare a chronology of events that led up to the fraud, including the names and telephone numbers.

Obtain certified copies of all deeds relating to the transaction. Deeds can be obtained from the Merced County Assessor's Office.

Collect copies of all real estate documents, including escrow documents, real estate contracts, and loan documents. Maintain original documents for your records and provide copies when needed.

Contact a civil attorney. Someone who is knowledgeable in real estate law. Issues contesting ownership of property typically involve the filing of a quiet title lawsuit which enables an attorney to protect your property interest.

To Report Suspected Real Estate Fraud or for Additional Information Contact:

Merced County District Attorney
Bureau of Investigations
Real Estate Fraud Unit
550 W. Main Street, Merced, CA 95340
(209) 385-7381

Para Espanol (209) 385-7381

Merced County Assessor's Office
2222 M Street, Merced, CA 95340
(209) 385-7434

Merced County Association of Realtors®
(209) 725-2165
Michele Gabriault-Acosta, President
www.mercedcounty.com

Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
(800) 569-4287
For additional information and classes visit their website: www.hud.gov

Freddie Mac
(818) 710-3000
To avoid foreclosure or for foreclosure information: www.freddiemac.com

F.B.I.
(916) 481-9110
To file a complaint online go to: sacramento.fbi.gov

Better Business Bureau (BBB)
(559) 222-8111
To file a complaint online go to: www.cencal.bbb.org

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
To file an identity theft complaint online go to: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov


Merced County 2222 M Street Merced, CA 9543 Ph. (209) 385-7434 Toll Free (800) 226-6452