Page: About Karen Yarbrough

HIGHLIGHTS OF KARENS' FIRST TERM
1. Completely revamped CCRD Fraud Unit and brought national recognition to anti-fraud efforts
2. Created innovative judicial review process to invalidate clearly fraudulent recordings at no cost to victim
3. Ushered in technological advances that allow for e-recording of deeds for the first time ever
4. Reduced headcount and spending; cut budget 10% from ’15 to ’16
5. Sought performance and financial audits to increase productivity and efficiency
6. Opened a Veterans Welcoming Center to assist those utilizing CCRD’s DD-214 storage program
7. Registered over 50,000 residents for Free Property Fraud Alert; attended over 250 community events
8. Launched Cook County’s most successful veterans program, the Military & Veterans Discount Card; over 5,000 vets signed up
9. Made strong progress towards ‘substantial compliance’ with CCRD’s inherited Shakman obligations
10. Led efforts to build the most open and transparent Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office to date
11. Emphasized training and employee development to improve service to the public
BLOCKCHAIN
1. Blockchain is a growing list of records called blocks which are linked using cryptography
2. Each new record (block) contains a cryptograhpic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (usually a merkle hash)
3. Blockchain makes transcations between 2 parties in a verifiable way because it is resistant to data changes and #4
4. Blockchain transactions are recorded on each of the computers (nodes) on its' distributed network of computers (nodes)
5. Blockchain transactions are secure because each node on the network must verify and validate any new blocks
6. Block changes on the network must be verified and validated by a consensus of the network majority
 
In a nutshell, a blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the consensus of the network
About Karen Yarbrough

Karen A. Yarbrough, Cook County Recorder of Deeds and Registrar of Titles, is a full-time administrator, overseeing a $12 million budget and 160 employees – the 2nd largest Recorder’s office in the United States. In that role, she has established herself as a national leader in the growing movement to change the office of county recorder from a place where property fraud happens, to a place where property fraud is confronted.

Yarbrough is a strong advocate for our nation’s open land records system, which allows regular people to easily acquire and finance property. In many countries that lack such a system, home and property ownership is impossible, and Yarbrough recognizes the important role her office plays in making America great.

While all the other countywide land offices in Cook are a part of the system to assess and collect property taxes, she is the only countywide advocate on behalf of property owners and home ownership.

In her first two years as Recorder, Yarbrough made fundamental changes to CCRD and the Office of County Recorder – adding advocacy to an office traditionally seen as a ministerial repository of documents. In addition to good stewardship of budgeted funds by doing more with less funding each year, she has made the Cook County Recorder’s Office a national model in the fight against property fraud. She advanced three laws through the legislature in 2013: Public Act 98-99 empowers county recorders to help property owners fight property fraud, and serves as model legislation for recorders across the country; Public Act 98-98 raises the penalty for knowingly filing false claims of interest or attempting to cloud a property title from a misdemeanor to a felony; and Public Act 98-29 requires Cook County notaries who validate transfers of property to maintain detailed records of each and forward them to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office.

In 2015, Recorder Yarbrough again went to the General Assembly to expand the protections and services offered by CCRD, advancing legislation to 1) allow individuals to utilize CCRD’s strong cybersecurity protections to digitally and privately store their last will and testament, 2) give new homeowners the chance to put an automated Property Fraud Alert on their home at the time of closing, and 3) allow her office to refuse certain fraudulent recordings meant to interfere with foreclosures that prevent communities from rebuilding.