The Truth About Home Title Theft
Home title theft is a real problem that is becoming more prominent. How it works is that a scammer will gather your personal information in order to steal your identity and then transfer your home title to themselves. That gives them access to all the equity in your home. Ouch.
How Does Home Title Theft Happen:
Scammers will choose a house, sometimes a second home, rental or vacant house, and gather your personal information from the internet or elsewhere to take over your identity and assume the property owner’s role. They fraudulently file paperwork to transfer ownership of your property to themselves using forged signatures and fake identification. In most cases, they will take out a home equity line of credit, but they can go so far as to sell your home. Even worse, you might not even know this has happened until a lender starts to send letters telling you “your” payments are late or that your property is in foreclosure.
Is This A New Problem?
Home title theft was unheard of twenty years ago, but now it’s one of the most popular real estate scams in the US. The increase in title theft is due to records being stored online makes it easier for criminals to steal your identity. Further, since many title companies will allow paperwork to be submitted digitally, it makes it even easier for a thief to steal your title.
How to Protect Yourself
It’s pretty difficult to protect yourself from any type of identity theft, but you can do your best to keep an eye on your credit. Signing up for a credit monitoring service is a good idea since it will let you know if new accounts have been taken out in your name. You can also keep an eye on your bank accounts or any credit cards you have to make sure there aren’t any unapproved withdrawals or charges. Something else to look out for is your mail. If you stop receiving bills in the mail, that’s an indicator that a scammer has changed your address. It is also important to be aware of any information you give to people. Look out for email and phone scams asking for your social security number or debit card number. If something seems fishy – it probably is.
If you find out your identity or home title has been stolen, you can file reports with the Federal Trade Commission, FBI, and local law enforcement. It will be a long and frustrating process to get your money back, but it can be done.
More questions? Let me know! I’m here to help however I can.