Whenever you buy a new home, it’s important to protect yourself against different types of potential fraud. One such kind of scam is home title fraud, which happens when another person steals your identity to acquire ownership of your property title. Which usually takes the form of a legal document like a deed that carries the homeowners’ name. The imposter in question can obtain as many loans as he or she wants by using your equity as collateral. The true homeowner can often be completely oblivious to the fraud until the lender begins sending letters saying they plan to foreclose on the home.
Home Title Fraud
Home title fraud is a frequent phenomenon, and many targets of it may not know it happened until well after the crime began. According to the FBI, more than 9,600 victims of home title fraud lost over $56 million in 2017. The FBI also reported 301,580 wire fraud complaints and losses equal to $1.4 billion that year. This type of scam typically occurs as a result of identity theft. Since most transaction and document requests are usually completed online, the odds of potential scammers stealing personal information are often high. Older homeowners are targeted most frequently, as they have more equity in their homes and may not be as tech-savvy as their younger counterparts.
Other common victims of title fraud include people with multiple homes and real estate investment properties. These people can often miss bills or notices like property tax payments or foreclosure notifications. This allows fraudsters to swindle homeowners.
Home title fraud should also not be confused with mortgage fraud, which occurs when a prospective homeowner, lender or seller omits crucial information that ends with a mortgage loan being approved or the loan is approved with terms that the applicant typically wouldn’t qualify for. If there is ever a mass data breach, millions of people can become exposed to either type of fraud.
How To Protect Yourself From Home Title Fraud
There are several ways you can shield yourself from home title fraud. Here are four such tactics:
- Check your credit report: This can help you identify any financial transactions that may have been carried out in your name and let you assess whether or not you have been a target of identity theft. If your current balance or total debt ever seems too high or too low, it’s likely because you may have been a victim of fraud.
- Pay attention to regular income bills: It’s key that you make sure you receive all your monthly bills, including your water bill, tax bill, etc. If you ever fail to receive a bill, this may be due to home title fraud or potential identity theft.
- Check your home information: Regularly verify the information on your home with your county’s deed office to ensure no information on your home title has changed. Home title lock is a typically inexpensive protection service.
- Enlist help from a title agent: Receiving assistance from a title agent or other third-party service can also help protect you against home title fraud, either by “locking” your title or through title insurance.
Steps To Take If You Are A Victim Of Identity Theft
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft and home title fraud, there are several steps you can take to begin protecting yourself right away, including requesting help from an experienced Title Insurance Agent. You can also:
- Include a one-year fraud alert on your credit report, or any other longer fraud notification
- Evaluate your credit report
- File an identity theft report with your local police department
- Notify your credit reporting agency to end any fraudulent activity on your report
- Use a credit monitoring service
- Get a free dark web email scan
Seeking More Information About Home Title Fraud Protection
Speak to the experienced title insurance agents at Mathis Title Company in Fairfax, Virginia to learn more about how you can protect yourself from potential home title fraud.
Mathis Title Company will help you by creating a proper title insurance policy, by ensuring the title is clean — in other words, free of unpaid taxes, legal dues, lawsuits or remaining heirs with rights to the property — by issuing title insurance and by helping you obtain both an owner’s policy and a lender’s policy.