Cyber attack on private company stoping recorders offices from updating real estate records

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 8:50 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Other than a short time period in January, the Linn County Recorders Office hasn’t been able to update real estate records since around Christmas time. Those records include liens on properties and information about loans or mortgages still outstanding.

Linn County is one of many counties across the state, like Black Hawk County, and the country dealing with the same issue. Both Linn and Black Hawk County Recorders said they can’t access the records because Cott Systems, which is a vendor counties used to manage real estate records, is facing a cyber-attack.

“The most frustrating part is feeling helpless we want to help our customers but we can’t at this time,” said Linn County Recorder Carolyn Siebercht (D). Siebercht also gave TV9 a copy of the company’s statement, which describes technical difficulties from a cyber incident.

Erick Skogman, who is the Chief Legal Officer & Managing Broker at Skogman Reality, said the outage means people need to sign an affidavit saying there is no additional debt on the house because the records haven’t been updated since Christmas. He said if the outage continues he says real estate closings could come to a halt because different groups in the process of buying a house don’t trust the outdated information.

“That’s when a problem would be created and people couldn’t close on their homes because the title company, the lender or the attorney wouldn’t trust the information they have because of how long it’s been,” Skogman said.

Black Hawk County officials say it’s continuing to update its system by hand until service is restored to Cott Systems. Linn County says it has too many properties to update the database manually.