County Websites Being Hacked

Another  frightening case for  County officials. This time the Ventura County’s Online Credit Card Payment System in the Tax Collector’s office was foiled.  It appears to have been hacked from a location somewhere  in the Philippines, according to county officials, and it sent out emails to an unknown number of people who had previously paid their taxes online through the system.  The Ventura County, CA  Tax Collector, Steven Hintz, says received a “phishing” email, as he had previously used the online system to pay his taxes.  He knew it hadn’t been sent, and knew enough not to open it.  Others who did respond to paying their real estate taxes online may have a problem.  Read more at the LA Times and catch the news and video news report at KEYT News

In Illinois, workers couldn’t access the Cook County Recorder of Deeds website on April 12th. Worse, they complained they were being rerouted to sex sites. More at the Chicago Tribune While computers are wonderful and marvelous things, we must all take care when accessing information that was not sought from supposedly “official county sites.”

Keeping the Right Documents for Taxes

The Washington Post has a good article for our clients and a reminder for us of the paperwork involved in closing a real estate transaction. It discusses what documentation should be kept and why along with some good pointers. It reminds us that the key documents are the HUD-1 settlement statement, the promissory note, the deed of trust (mortgage), the truth-in-lending disclosure and the deed. It highly recommends an Owner’s Policy of Title Insurance, and suggests that you should also keep copies of all paid invoices for all major repairs, improvements and additions that affect your cost basis in the home. I.e. capital improvements, that include the following: building an addition, replacing the roof, paving a driveway, installing central air conditioning, and rewiring. IRS Publication 551 , available at, provides detailed information for determining increases and decreases to your home’s cost basis.

A New PACE Lien for Abstractors

Good Catch ALTA!  Another new lien has been introduced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency that could impact our title searches, abstracting, closing and title insurance policies. But what type of lien? We don’t know – perhaps a mortgage type lien, or perhaps a tax or assessment lien?

Accordingly, ALTA has sent a must read ALTA letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency asking for clarification about the process by which a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) lien is created, administered and satisfied. Without additional information regarding PACE liens, abstractors will not be able to properly identify whether or not property being searched has a PACE  lien. Additionally, it is not clear the priority of such lien – upon recording, or as a form of  government taxation. Read More at Business Wire and Housing Wire

Info On Home Closing

Home Closing 101: An Educational Initiative of the American Land Title Association