Heart and Hustle in Hamilton County

Hamilton County Recorder’s Office is Modernizing to Prevent Fraud and Improve Access

June 09, 2022 Bridget Doherty
Hamilton County Recorder’s Office is Modernizing to Prevent Fraud and Improve Access
Heart and Hustle in Hamilton County
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Heart and Hustle in Hamilton County
Hamilton County Recorder’s Office is Modernizing to Prevent Fraud and Improve Access
Jun 09, 2022
Bridget Doherty

Long-time Chief of Staff for the Hamilton County Recorder’s Office David Pittinger gets into the details of the office’s efforts to modernize record keeping to improve accessibility and prevent fraud. 

The Recorder’s Office just announced a new Real Estate Fraud Alert Service to alert those who enroll for the service of filings under their names, warning property owners to potentially fraudulent activity in real-time. The Recorder’s Office is also set to release over 6 million images this month, finishing a project to make Deed Books, Leases, Registered Land Documents, and Registered Land Certificates easily accessible to the public.  

Tune in to hear about this and other free services for veterans, the Griffin Yeatman award, and the tumultuous history behind some of the oldest records in Hamilton County.

To sign up for the free Real Estate Fraud Alert Service, visit https://recordersoffice.hamilton-co.org/recording-notification-service.html
To nominate a person or project for the Griffin Yeatman Award, visit https://recordersoffice.hamilton-co.org/in_the_news/griffin_yeatman_award.html

To learn more about Hamilton County, Ohio, our services and job openings, visit hamiltoncountyohio.gov.

Show Notes Transcript

Long-time Chief of Staff for the Hamilton County Recorder’s Office David Pittinger gets into the details of the office’s efforts to modernize record keeping to improve accessibility and prevent fraud. 

The Recorder’s Office just announced a new Real Estate Fraud Alert Service to alert those who enroll for the service of filings under their names, warning property owners to potentially fraudulent activity in real-time. The Recorder’s Office is also set to release over 6 million images this month, finishing a project to make Deed Books, Leases, Registered Land Documents, and Registered Land Certificates easily accessible to the public.  

Tune in to hear about this and other free services for veterans, the Griffin Yeatman award, and the tumultuous history behind some of the oldest records in Hamilton County.

To sign up for the free Real Estate Fraud Alert Service, visit https://recordersoffice.hamilton-co.org/recording-notification-service.html
To nominate a person or project for the Griffin Yeatman Award, visit https://recordersoffice.hamilton-co.org/in_the_news/griffin_yeatman_award.html

To learn more about Hamilton County, Ohio, our services and job openings, visit hamiltoncountyohio.gov.

Jeff Aluotto:

Hello everyone and welcome to Heart and hustle in Hamilton County, a podcast entirely dedicated to the people and policies that form Hamilton County government in Ohio. Why the name heart and hustle? Well, it best describes the public servants who make our local government work in our community. Each episode focuses on creative solutions to the challenges that our 49 communities face. And as well as how our different government departments are tackling those challenges, really a local government 101 For listeners who are curious and want to learn more, I'm your host, Jeff Ludo. I'm the County Administrator with Hamilton County and with me, as always, is our communication manager Bridget Doherty. Hello, everyone. And I also want to give a special welcome to our interns who are here with us today Gabrielle whaler and Madison Brown. I don't know that you'll be able to hear them, but they might be chiming in sometime during the episode. So we just wanted to make sure you had that context. And today I am super excited about this episode because we have been really pushing this episode for a while even though it's been a while it took us a while to extend the invite. But today we're going to be diving into the work of the Hamilton County Recorders Office. So one of the most important functions of county government is ensuring the protection of property and real estate in the community. Those records are much of what when people in the community think of as their home. Those are the records that are on file preserved and protected and held by the Hamilton County Recorders Office. The recorders office was established specifically to record preserve and make available for inspection documents relating to real estate and involves the sale Lease and Transfer of property as well as mortgages and liens that would affect the title of a piece of property. And starting this month. The Recorders Office plans to release over 6 million images, finishing a project to make deed books, leases, registered land documents and registered land certificates easily available to the public. Joining us today is Dave Pittenger. He is the chief of staff for the Hamilton County Recorder. He's going to discuss the history of the office, the recorder scanning project, the new real estate fraud alert service free services for veterans, and the Griffin Yetman award, among other interesting tidbits about the office. So Dave, welcome to the show. And before we get started talking about the office itself. I just wanted to get to have the public get to know you a little bit. So tell us a little bit about yourself and your career with Hamilton County.

Dave Pittinger:

Well, thank you, Jeff, on behalf of recorder Crowley and myself, it's a real honor to be here and to talk about an office that I'm sure I'm a little biased, but I think the recorders office is the number one office in Hamilton County and here's why. I have been with the Hammond County Recorders Office for almost 40 years. I started as an intern at the University of Cincinnati. And I guess I never left. So I'm very fortunate. I've worked for several recorders, and still continued to work here serving the people of Hamilton County.

Jeff Aluotto:

And 40 years that's just absolutely amazing. So first of all, on behalf of the Board and the county and the residents of Hamilton County. Dave, thank you for your service to Hamilton County. I know you've served under, as you said multiple recorders is just a testament to you and the other staff down there who have long tenures as well as to how how well you guys do your job. So congratulations on a great career. And thank you for your service to Hamilton County. What specifically for someone who might not know anything about the recorders office, tell us some of the services specifically the recorder provides for Hamilton County.

Dave Pittinger:

Sure, Jeff, a lot of times I talk to my friends, they think we do traffic tickets, or we do all kinds of court things. And I'm like, I understand we record. But what we record is real estate documents. And what that means is I try to explain to a lot of people, we're like a big library. We're not the authors of the books. We don't write the books, we don't write titles, but we actually preserve them and make them available of public record. And when I actually when I started we were writing with pen, not a quill, but in ink. And actually we've gone a long, long way in the office. So with my years of experience, they've been there. I've got to do it all. So it's been a big, big change. But we're there to record, preserve and maintain real estate records in Hamilton County.

Bridget Doherty:

So I love that you touched on the rich history of the recorders office. Did you mention when it was established

Dave Pittinger:

by chance? Yeah, actually, we were one of the very first offices in Hamilton County even before statehood in 1803. We were established in April of 1794. So that's a pretty good record and we still have those records almost back to 1789 in our office to this day, even handwritten, available for the public to view. Alright, so

Jeff Aluotto:

we're just gonna go off the cuff here a little bit. That's fascinating how old some of these records are. So what? What is the oldest that you're aware of what is the oldest set of records that exists that you're aware of in the story behind some of those? Sure,

Dave Pittinger:

it would be our deed books. And that's the transfer of the real estate from one party to another. And then later on, we got mortgages, leases, power of attorneys, and subdivision maps, but better the deeds are really the heart of our documents.

Jeff Aluotto:

Got it. And so when people think about the protection, you know, the history of this community, and property history in this community, I have to think, when you think of some of the things that have happened in Hamilton County, you know, we we've all heard about the courthouse fire back in 1884. What is there? If you're looking back through the history of these documents, is there a big gap in the record? Did we experience a big loss of data in in history at that point in time? Or how did that how did the fire implicate the recorders office?

Dave Pittinger:

Actually, we were very lucky. I don't know if at the time they also thought that maybe the record was the best office in Hamilton County. But as the fire and Riot moved on, just about every single county office was destroyed, the courthouse that we have today that was dedicated 1913 sits on the site of the 1884, Riot and fire and how the books got saved for the recorder, they determined it was so important, they were throwing the books out the window, put him in horse carts, and took them to a grist mill to save them. So we were very, very fortunate. We even have one and a historical society that has the burnt edges, and they've been transcribed over the years. But that's why we get the honor of saying we have the oldest set of records, pretty much because everybody else's records burned up.

Bridget Doherty:

So if with this history and all these singe documents that you have, who's the person that comes in to try to go through these documents? Who is that person from the public?

Dave Pittinger:

The advantage that we have now we've been able to scan so many things, but it's genealogist it's it's scholars? It's really people all over the board. I mean, you would think it's just historians, it is not, there's been so much with the internet now, of people doing family histories. In the old days, people would have to write in and we would have to try to research it would take weeks, months, years, you know, who knows. But now they can just freely pull them up 24/7. And that's the amazing part now.

Bridget Doherty:

So when you talk about this massive scanning project that you have going on, I understand you received some grant money to get this scan done, and how is that affecting the public?

Dave Pittinger:

Absolutely. I mean, we're so grateful to the administration here with amlak. County, Jeff and your team, that of COVID. Some bad things obviously have happened with COVID. But one of the good things was is some of the money that did go to the county agencies. And we were able to back scan over a million images. And we're now working on 6 million images, which we hope to have up this month we're loading. But that will give us almost a full fledge except for a few mortgages and releases that we have to do that will give us every single document from 1789 all the way to the current date online for people to access and for free, it doesn't cost anything, anybody can log in and look at them. And it's really been a great service. So thank you again, Jeff, for your leadership for letting us be able to do this.

Bridget Doherty:

And so are they missing? Are they logging in off your website? Yes, they are. Okay, so we'll make sure that we link to your website on this podcast where you get it. And also you handle more than just real estate documents. Can you discuss your role in maintaining military discharge documents?

Dave Pittinger:

Absolutely. That's something that's dear near to the recorder, because he is a marine. And he also was a prosecutor. So he wanted to make sure that we give back to our veterans who have served us so well. And we have documents that come in and they're called DD 214. Now what a DT DD 214 is, is the service discharge when a person gets out of service, and they're allowed to record that on a county level for free. And we can give you a certified copy, which that also allows you to do is to get a veteran's ID.

Jeff Aluotto:

And so on that note, Dave, you do other things, as you said for veterans, so you do veterans ID cards, as you mentioned, what are some of the benefits that a veteran locally might have for obtaining one of those ID cards.

Dave Pittinger:

We have on our website, a list of a lot of the merchants that will give discounts. So it's really been a great partnership with our business community as well. That they can get the card once they come in and have their DD 214 on file. They can make an appointment or even just walk in and either by calling us or just coming in on a daily basis. We will make the Veterans ID card. And then once you have that card, you can use a lot of the services that are out there to get discounts.

Jeff Aluotto:

That's fantastic. And thanks to your office for, for continuing to do I know the record is extremely proud of that. And speaking of initiatives that I know the office is very proud of, you only have to flip on the radio right now just to hear all the different services that are available as it relates to property fraud, real estate fraud, etc. And your office, the Office of the recorder has gotten into now providing a fraud protection service, a fraud notification service to county residents. So talk a little bit if you would about how that notification system works and how it the service can help prevent fraud and Hamilton County

Dave Pittinger:

absolutely recorded Crowley that was one of the things that he wanted to do when he came into office we started last year. And we've been working very hard to get this up and running. And you do hear a lot of commercials about it is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States is titled fraud, or fraud by taking somebody's name or their property, you do hear companies out there that provide a service. And sometimes they'll say they're locking a title, nobody can lock a title. But what they can do is be notified in those services do cost money, they are providing a service. But that's the one thing that we want to make sure that we can provide through Hamilton County, free of charge. And we just were able to bring that up and put that online for people in Hamilton County. And that started since at the end of April. So all they have to do is log on to our website. And then it'll have a link that they can then put in whatever names that they want to be followed and have an email address. And what we'll do is then also give you a confirmation to make sure that it's really you. And once you set it up, you can change it or change the names. But any document that would come in under the hammock county recorders office, from the date of them signing up, they would get notification. So sometimes a person really wouldn't know they had a document, so no problem. But let's say they didn't, they would then know immediately that something has happened their property instead of waiting months or years down the road when they do a title exam or within somebody's trying to take their property.

Jeff Aluotto:

Got it in Bridgette I'm assuming we can link that sign up into the the notes on the show as well. So if you're listening to this, and you want to find out how to sign up for that, go to the notes on the show and and you'll be able to hit the link directly from there.

Dave Pittinger:

And we've had a lot of people asking for it. And once we released it, it's been a really huge success. And so we're very proud to make something through Hamlin county that we can do for free.

Bridget Doherty:

Do you have any like stories on how this is helped? Or have you had any hits so far?

Dave Pittinger:

Absolutely. I'm the one that usually has to take documents over to court, when the prosecutor does have a case, what we have found in some of the studies is that counties that do use a notification service, the criminal stay away from it, because it's almost like a big dog in your front yard. You're not sure if that dog is gonna bite you or he's gonna love you. But who wants to take that chance? So that's how we look at the fraud notification. We're gonna take a bite out of crime.

Bridget Doherty:

Great. So can you tell us a little bit about I know you have a service award that I just recently found out about, called the Griffin Yeatman award? Can you give us a little bit of the backstory on that?

Dave Pittinger:

Absolutely. In 1994 we noticed so many people in Hamilton County are unsung heroes. And they really work hard for Hamilton County. They're volunteers. They give their time and effort. And there really wasn't any way to kind of reward them in a sense because they're unsung heroes and they don't want the reward. They don't want the accolades. So we named it after Griffin Haven who was the first electric recorder in Hamilton County. Some of you probably have heard of Yemen's Cove. And there actually even used to be a tavern that called the square in the conference. And that's actually where county business was being done. And the historical side even has a Punchbowl that was used for community service. And but we don't have that fungible anymore of here. But the award kind of went to make sure these unsung heroes in the first award actually went to Bill graver, who was the man that determined that none of the records were destroyed in the recorders office, it was a numbering system. And even the Mormons had listed that our records and burned in a fire. And then we found out that wasn't true. So since then, we have been giving awards to the unsung heroes. And it can be for a person that works for Historical Society, or not even work but volunteer. So it's those unsung people, places, preservation, things that are really important to our community that sometimes the press doesn't always cover. And so we are still taking nominations for this year. And that's also on our website. We've extended it out because we've had a lot of interest this year. So please reach out to us if you'd like and make a nomination to somebody.

Jeff Aluotto:

So again, Dave, if you could, if someone does know someone, how do they go about applying for that? Would that just be directly through the website or what's the what's the best means to go about applying for the award?

Dave Pittinger:

Yeah, that's actually the best way Jeff. We have a link that's right on It says Griffin, you even if they click on that, it will give an explanation. It will also show all the previous winners and pictures of them. And but it has a form that you can download, or just send it in and we'll definitely put it under consideration.

Jeff Aluotto:

Fantastic. Well, Dave, I want to just take this opportunity again to thank you personally for all of your service to Hamilton County and the residents of Hamilton County. I want to thank recorder Crowley and all the staff of the Hamilton County Recorders Office for all that you all do each and every day for a in an office that really when you think about county government is designed to protect and preserve one of the most fundamental pillars of our society, and that is private property and property rights in the community. And you guys I can say from my experience working with you over these years. You guys do a fantastic, best in class job at it. So Dave, thank you. Thank you for being with us today. No problem. And, and thanks to all of you for listening to season two, episode two of heart and hustle in Hamilton County. A reminder to subscribe on Apple podcast, Spotify and other providers. You can find the podcast on our website, Hamilton County ohio.gov on the county administrator's page. So on behalf of my co host Bridget Doherty and our guest producers today Gabrielle whaler and Madison Brown. I want to thank all of you and we'll see you next time on Episode three season two of heart and hustle in Hamilton County.