If you're concerned about your mortgage, you may have done a web search for MERS and found that the top results are for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. That MERS probably isn't worth worrying about if you don't live in the Middle East. But the other MERS, the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, is an important part of the problems surrounding fraudulent foreclosures, robo-signing, and the housing crisis.
The Mortgage Electronic Registration System is an entity created by the real estate financing industry to allow them to transfer mortgages notes privately, avoid paying local registration fees, and allow a market in mortgages to operate effectively. With MERS, the mortgage notes are stored in a privately-held electronic database, not on paper in a public office. Every time a mortgage is bought and sold, MERS makes an electronic record of the transaction. No matter who really owns the note, MERS remains the “legal assignee."