While the rising prevalence of technology is beneficial most of the time, it also provides opportunities for people to take advantage of both new and established homeowners. Cyber-based crime has increased rapidly in recent years, and with the unexpected emergence of a pandemic, technology has been misused in even more clever and efficient ways.
One of the crimes that has seen continual growth is title fraud. A home purchase is likely one of the largest investments that you will make in your lifetime, and having it compromised can leave you in an unfortunate financial position.
The good news is that if you remain vigilant, you can not only spot title fraud early on but also take action to stop it from permanently harming your equity. Here’s what you need to know about how title insurance can help and how to report home title fraud as soon as you learn about it.
What Is Title Fraud?
Title fraud, which you may also hear referred to as “home title fraud,” is an illegal act in which the culprit commits identity theft in order to change ownership on a property title belonging to another individual. The criminal acquires ownership of the desired property by forging a deed or modifying other important paperwork. As a result, your house and property could enter foreclosure, or the person who claims to own it could attempt to sell it to someone else.
Why Title Fraud Can Mean Bad Things for Homeowners
Having some sort of error with your title could result in a large loss for you. You could lose your house or may even be responsible for debts that you weren’t aware existed, such as for liens that previously existed and were not discovered before you made your purchase.
There are several ways in which a criminal may commit home title fraud and this usually begins by forging documents that then make it appear that they are the rightful owner of the property. In most cases, they will then leverage the property for financial gain such as with lines of credit against the home.
How to Check for Title Fraud
Monitoring for home title fraud can be time consuming, but the benefits may be the difference between keeping your home or losing it. Checking all known information regarding your property is a good place to start which can be done by regularly checking your credit report. Be sure to review every letter you receive from mortgage companies in order to carefully observe the content and who is being addressed; if your title has been fraudulently modified, this mail may start arriving in the forger’s name.
How to Report Home Title Fraud
It is essential to report home title fraud the moment you suspect that anything is amiss with your title. Here’s what to do:
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint. The FTC treats this issue seriously, and you can create an ID theft report online or by contacting 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or identitytheft.gov.
- Contact law enforcement in your area. Gather as much evidence as possible, because it may be required by financial institutions to prove who owns the home.
- Contact the FBI and file a report. Their Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) can be found at ic3.gov.
- Place a “fraud alert” on your credit reports. Freezing your credit can prevent someone from impersonating you or taking out debt in your name. The three credit unions are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
- Notify all credit grantors and financial institutions. Do not forget to inspect all of your accounts and observe if there are any unusual withdrawals, unauthorized activity or unexpected actions taken. Regularly change all of your passwords and update your PIN numbers.
Trust the Experts to Help You Insure Your Home Against Fraud
Home title fraud is not something that will resolve itself, especially without detailed attention on your part, or expert help. Title insurance can shield you from damages caused by title fraud. The experts at Mathis Title Company have years of experience helping clients navigate title fraud and resolve the issue before it creates a negative impact. Contact our team to learn more or to schedule an appointment to get started.