$20,000 liens force retired OKC police officer to prove his identity

OKLAHOMA CITY - Retired Oklahoma City Police Officer Carl Smith's only crime, his name.

“I said, “I said it’s bogus!”

He spent more than two decades serving and protecting.

Now he's in a race to prove his innocence.

Carl was refinancing his home, when a title search by his mortgage company turned up $20,000 worth of liens.

He adamantly told News 4, “They're not mine, no!”

His daughter and wife were also named, but it’s not their debt either.  

Three of the liens were filed by an Oklahoma City debt collection law firm.

The other seven were for tax warrants issued by the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Oklahoma Tax Commission spokesperson, Paula Ross, admits her office filed the liens, but says they were meant for another Carl smith, not Carl Smith, the retired officer.

She added, “We're filing the information with the county on the person and their last four digits of their Social Security number.”

The Tax Commission only provides the information. It's up to the county to index it.

“We do things electronically with the county,” I can't speak to them, but it is surprising.”

Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten says his office makes the record, and when a lien is filed with a common last name, even with the last four digits of the social, the lien spills over.

“It goes on multiple people [and looks] like they owe something even if they really don't.”

 Even though it may look like you owe the debt, you actually don't.

The mistaken liens for Carl were never actually attached to his house or assets.

“It's attached to his likeness, but not attached to his name,” Hooten pointed out.

Carl eventually proved the liens weren't his and closed on his mortgage refinance.

Problem is they're still there, and won’t go away until they get paid.

As it stands now Carl could have to prove the liens aren't his every time someone runs a title search on him.

“Someone needs to fix this system,”  I'm angry about that it happened.

Hooten says he’s listening closely.

He and his staff have been working diligently for the last two years to put the county's records online, and will soon be launching a new filing alert system.

He said, “You'll be notified if anything with your name on it pops up in the Oklahoma County Clerk's Office [and] then you can look at it and say, ‘Nah, that's not me. I don't need to worry about it,’ or, ‘Wait a minute that's me, maybe I need to click on this further and see what's going on.’”

The new filing alert system is scheduled to roll out later this month, but you must opt in!

You can sign up for the service for free.

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