Giving The Fingerprint: Home Law Raises Concern

Real estate certainly has its risks and fraud is a growing problem, but now there's a new law that's supposed to protect buyers. As CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli reports the new law will also place an unusual burden on the seller.

Fingerprinting is something we often associate with crime. So the fact that Cook County home sellers will soon have to provide a thumb print left some people shocked.

"I wouldn't like that at all. I don't think that's necessary," said Chicagoan Donald Hayes.

"I don't know what I think about that. Not very good, I think, said Jenny Armstrong of Lake Villa.

The new law, which is set to go into effect June 1, 2009, will force anyone selling property in Cook County to provide a thumbprint from their right hand.

"No more so than any law abiding citizen walking down the sidewalk should be fingerprinted; just for selling my house, that's ridiculous," said Gerald Cain of Land Acquisitions, Inc. Cain has been in the real estate consulting business for decades. He says the law is intrusive and threatens to create fraud when it's designed to prevent it. Cain has been notarizing documents for more than a quarter century, but he says unless the fingerprint rule is revoked, he plans to get out of the business. "I would probably just quit; liability for me is too much," Cain said.

Joseph Rogul of the Professional National Title Network isn't worried about the law and rather welcomes it. "We're in favor of it. Fraud has been a big problem for title companies like us. We don't think it will add too much of a burden on us," said Rogul. Rogul says consumers will likely have to pay a little more, but he believes the benefits will outweigh the costs, because widespread fraud in the industry means widespread costs, which are typically passed on to the consumer. The law specifies that consumers can be charged up to $25 to cover fingerprint processing costs. Unless it's reintroduced, the thumbprint rule is set to expire in 2013. Cain is calling on lawmakers to repeal the provision. Experts say one basic example of real estate fraud occurs when a seller misrepresents his or her identity, receives money and then flees.(CBS, 3.14. 2009, Mike Puccinelli)  

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