PIN slamming victim gets settlement with help from I-Team

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
ROBBINS, Ill. (WLS) -- A south suburban woman and her seven children said they feared losing their home to what's known as "PIN slamming," until the I-Team got involved.

The family's tax bills doubled because county investigators say they were victims of PIN slamming. They tried to resolve the problem for two years as they feared losing their home.

Then, after some calls from the I-Team, two companies involved changed their tune.

As Demetris Kelly held up her signed, legal settlement, she said she can finally feel at home with a huge tax bill no longer hanging over her head.

"My taxes were sold for over $6,700 and I'm able to pay that with the settlement and I'm also able to pay four years going forward," Kelly said. "And I will not lose my home."

Kelly bought the Robbins home in 2014 for her and her 7 children. Six months later, Kelly found out that her property straddled two lots and therefore had two property index numbers, or "PINs."

Kelly said she then discovered that second PIN came with $6,700 in back-taxes from 2014. She would owe thousands more for other years. The Cook County Recorder of Deeds office said Kelly was a victim of PIN slamming.

"PIN slamming is when a seller specifically hides a PIN from the potential purchaser and then sells the property to them and then several months later drops the PIN on them," said Mario Reed, Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

Synergy sold Kelly the home. Reed said Synergy must have known know about the two PINs because its parent company, Midwest Bank, foreclosed on the property's previous owner.

"Ms. Kelly did everything correct in this instance. She had an attorney, she had a realtor, she did it through a title company, she had a title insurance policy," Reed said.

Kelly should have been protected by her contract with Chicago Title Insurance, so she sued. In a legal response, Chicago Title and Synergy said they had no responsibility and Kelly "cannot prove negligence or fraud."

But after calls from the I-Team, Chicago Title Insurance reopened Kelly's claim, then they and Synergy both settled for several thousands of dollars, although the settlement also contains a provision saying there is no admission of wrongdoing.

"Thanks to Mario Reed from the Recorder of Deeds and the I-Team I finally got some resolution," Kelly said.

Since reporting the Kelly family's PIN slamming problem, 17 people have contacted the I-Team saying they were PIN slammed by different sellers.

One way to limit your risk of PIN slamming is to ask your realtor and attorney about this specific risk and what they can do to prevent it, before you close.
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