Identity theft is a subject we’ve all heard about over and over. It’s a regular feature on most news channels. Thieves seem to stop at nothing to get your personal information and use it for their own gain. You already know to be careful when using your credit or debit cards in public places. You’ve likely installed software on your computer to thwart scammers and protect your private information. What about your home? We’re not talking about a thief breaking in while you’re away. There’s a type of identity theft that’s a growing problem today. It’s called deed fraud. This post discusses what you should know about it and how to protect your home against it.
Deed Fraud Defined
Also called title theft and house stealing, this type of identity theft involves someone forging your signature on a deed and illegally transferring ownership of your property. The deed to your home is the legal document identifying you as the owner of your home or property. It’s not hard to imagine why a thief would take time to forge a deed considering the high value of real estate.
How Does Deed Fraud Happen?
You’re familiar with the way thieves use stolen identity to get credit cards and loans. They use the same information to change the name on a deed and transfer title. The thief must also file the forged deed with the county recorder. In some cases, a thief steals the official document during a home invasion. They alter the original document and change the name. Thieves also often target vulnerable homeowners, especially the elderly and people who are in serious financial trouble. They coerce or trick them into signing over the deed.
Signs of Deed Fraud
Unfortunately, most homeowners aren’t aware of fraud against the title to their property until long after it’s occurred. There are things you can watch for that offer clues that you’re a victim. If you notice recorded documents with your signature that you don’t recall signing, investigate them. You may also find a recorded document that transfers only a portion of your property to someone else. Loans taken out on your property are another sign. You might stop receiving tax bills or receive a notice of foreclosure when you don’t hold a mortgage. Finally, you could receive loan documents in your name when you never applied for the loan.
How Does Title Fraud Affect Homeowners?
One way you can deter deed fraud is by using title theft protection. Once fraud occurs, it creates a nightmare, especially when you try to sell your home or property. One example is when a deed is changed and then the fraudulent title holder sells the property. They usually make the transaction with a quitclaim deed because it doesn’t offer any warranty of title. The new owner, by the way, is also a victim in the scam.
Avoiding Fraud Title Fraud
We mentioned using protection against title theft earlier. This type of protection includes title professionals who perform a property title search every month and report on suspicious activity. You can also stay alert to some of the other things we’ve talked about such as loan documents you receive in the mail for loans you didn’t apply for and visibly forged real estate documents.
If you own a home, you’re an excellent fit for one of our title protection programs here at Secure Title Lock. Give us a call today at (801) 225-2888 and let’s chat.