8315 W. 10th Street, Indianapolis IN 46234. 
317-214-6023

Even while technology and the internet have greatly benefited us, personal information is increasingly vulnerable due to phishing schemes, data breaches, and greater access to information. Title theft has surged in tandem with identity theft.

Forging titles is becoming more popular among thieves as a means of obtaining personal property, although it is far less common than other forms of identity theft. However, what exactly is house title theft, and who is at risk of it? What can you do to avoid it if it happens, and what steps should you take?

In this post, let's find out all the answers you need to protect yourself from title theft.

What Is Home Title Theft?

The fraudulent transfer of a house deed into the name of another individual is a practice commonly referred to as deed theft or home title theft. Title thieves can counterfeit a deed so that it appears like they are the property owner by using stolen personal information.

Home title theft can happen in several ways if a thief obtains your personal information, including the following scenarios:

What Happens If Someone Steals A Property Title?

You can lose your property if someone steals the title without your knowledge. To avoid paying the mortgage, the burglar may refinance or sell your property, which could lead to a foreclosure. Nevertheless, if theft is discovered early on, acting quickly can reduce losses.

Use the procedures on the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) identity theft website if you believe someone is stealing your title. Among these steps are:

  1. Speak with the businesses where the scam happened.
  2. Get your credit reports and put up a fraud alert with your creditors.
  3. Inform the FTC about identity theft.
  4. Make a report to the police department in your community.

You must take these actions to notify authorities and your lender of any potential fraud as soon as you become aware of it. Making calls to relevant businesses, such as your title insurance provider and mortgage lender, will initiate the fraud investigation process.

If you retrieve your credit report and examine your other financial statements, you can discover other indicators of identity theft if you suspect title theft. For instance, you should look for any recently opened credit cards in your name, as well as any personal or auto loans for which you were not the applicant.

How Worried Should You Be About Your Title?

When it comes to title theft, your residence is the main target. However, there are also other types of identity theft that are not only more prevalent but also easier to carry out. People with large amounts of equity in their homes and do not suspect fraud are the most common targets of deed theft.

Sadly, this implies that elders are probably easy targets. Aside from the substantial equity in their residences, some seniors might not be as tech-savvy or struggle with health concerns, making it harder to pay close attention to financial matters and easier targets.

Title theft is less frequent than other forms of identity theft, yet it still happens. The FBI reports that real estate mortgage and rental fraud cost 9,600 victims more than $56 million in 2017. It's difficult to say how much of this fraud is directly related to title fraud at the moment. But over the past 20 years, identity theft has increased dramatically, and with it, so have occurrences of title theft.

Individuals who own second properties are also likely targets for house title theft. Distance increases the susceptibility of vacant properties, whether they are holiday or investment properties, to unsolicited rental or sale offers that would be quickly discovered on your primary residence. If you own a second residence, make sure you keep a close eye on bills and notifications, pay frequent visits, or assign a reliable property manager to check in on the house.

cybercrime identity theft protect yourself

How To Protect Yourself From Title Theft

While title fraud is rampant, there are numerous strategies available to protect yourself against title fraud. If you are attentive enough, fraudsters might know and avoid you. 

Therefore, the first step in keeping yourself safe from such incidents is to be vigilant, and you can do so by doing the following:

Vigilant people will either avoid you or find you soon. Keeping an eye out for possible fraud is the first step in protecting yourself. You can increase your level of awareness by doing the following.

Watch Out For Missing Invoices

If your regular bills start to disappear or change, there may be a problem. Get in touch with the business right away if you discover that you have never received a bill or that an automatic withdrawal has never occurred. It can just be a minor mistake, or there might be a problem.

In any case, by following up, you could spare yourself the headache. Being vigilant about your mail and bills will help you detect any strange activity early on. Additionally, it will ensure that you don't miss a notice of foreclosure or missed payment.

Constantly Check Your Credit And Credit Report

Even without the issue of title fraud, it's a good idea to regularly check your credit report. Every year, you should review your credit report. You should keep an eye out for any unexpected bills, credit cards you didn't apply for, late payments, or other fraudulent transactions. One good strategy to spot the warning indications of title fraud is to keep an eye on your credit score.

If you simply want to be extra safe or have experienced identity theft in the past, think about subscribing to a credit monitoring service. To ease your concerns, you can register for a credit monitoring program. Numerous proactive credit safeguards are provided by these businesses.

Secure Yourself And Property With Title Insurance

A title company verifies that the property's title is free and unobstructed. It protects the property from liens and claims made against it. Lender's and owner's title insurance are the two types available.

Your mortgage company requires a lender's title insurance, which guarantees that the title is approved for sale. After you purchase the property, your protection comes from an owner's title insurance policy. It safeguards you if, after you buy your house, any liens or claims are made or found.

When you purchase a property, title insurance is frequently included in the closing costs as a one-time expense. If you have chosen to have title insurance through your owner's policy, this will assist in shielding you against fraud.

Sign Up For Services For Title Protection

Recently, there has been criticism of title protection services, and it's primarily because homeowners have the option to independently verify their land records and title status or to register for a free county consumer text notification service. Many people have written off these services as being worth it because they offer information that is already freely available.

That could be valid if you have owner's title insurance coverage in this case. meanwhile, if you decide not to get insurance, you could be able to access a service that continuously tracks your records for $15 a month.

Beware of fraud artists posing as title protection suppliers. More people are falling victim to scammers as more people strive to get their titles. Make sure you do your homework and avoid answering enigmatic texts, calls, or emails that might be phishing scams or other scams. Make sure to get in direct contact with a reputable company if you choose to enroll in title protection.

Frequently Asked Questions On Home Title

Now that we're done with the basics, let's go over some of the most frequently asked questions concerning title theft.

Does home title theft exist?

First of all, home title theft is a real issue. Home titles were taken in several significant American cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, and Philadelphia, according to information gathered by the FBI. However, other types of identity theft are far more frequent and plausible. Before identity theft develops into property theft, you can detect early signs of identity theft by monitoring your mail, credit report, and personal information.

How often does home title theft happen?

Although the number of title theft cases is increasing, it doesn't happen very frequently. While there is an increase in many forms of internet crime, credit card fraud and wire fraud are two more prevalent forms of online identity theft.

Is it required to have home title theft insurance?

It is not required. When you close on your house, you can choose to have or not to have owner's title insurance. Nonetheless, it is sensible to purchase title insurance at the time of your house closing. Following your home's closing, you should keep an eye out for con artists pretending to provide title insurance or for typical con artists advertising title protection services.

Final Notes

Title theft is less frequent than other forms of identity theft, but identity fraud in general has increased recently. Online identity theft has increased as more of our information is available due to security breaches at major corporations and other sources.

If left unchecked, home title theft is a dangerous crime that can have catastrophic consequences. Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to safeguard both your house and yourself, including monitoring your credit record, keeping a look out for unpaid debts, and getting title insurance. To defend oneself and stop title theft, you must be proactive.

If you want to learn more about your home's title and/or how you can protect it and your property, you may send us a message or call us at 317-214-6023 today!

Up until you begin the process of purchasing your own home, there is an important player in the real estate market that is frequently disregarded. 

The title business, which unites all the parties involved in the home-buying process under one roof, is the agent of agents. The buyer, the seller, and the mortgage lender are the three parties engaged in the acquisition of your home that your title firm represents. To approach your home purchase with confidence, it is vital to understand the distinct responsibilities and roles of the title firm.

What Is The Role Of A Title Company?

The title company serves as your home's compliance officer in many ways when you buy or sell it. They ensure that the ownership transfer is done correctly and that all legal formalities are met. Title companies offer a vital service for any home sale or refinance. The purchasing and selling of a house would be difficult without the administrative and legal assistance of your title firm.

Conducting A Title Search In Indiana

A title company's initial responsibility in a house transaction is usually carrying out an exhaustive investigation into the property's past. 

One of the tasks involves examining all previous transfers, owners, and liens to determine whether the title is clear and ready to be transferred to a new owner, 

While not all home transactions have title issues, it's good to be aware of what these problems are to know which ones to look for and how to avoid them.

In the previous post, we discussed the common title issues in detail. Below, we'll give you a brief overview of what some of these are:

Leases

Is a third party currently leasing the property? In that case, even if the seller or seller's agent neglected to provide this information, the title search will make it clear.

Liens

The IRS may put a lien on a homeowner's property if they fall behind on their taxes. In the event of a sale, the lien cannot be removed from the title until it is paid in full. A home equity line of credit, past-due HOA dues, and, most obviously, a mortgage are some other frequent liens. For the title to pass to the new owner, these must all be paid in full at closing.

Easement

The grant of a non-possessory property interest that allows the easement holder to utilize another person's land is known as an easement. The word "easement" refers to a certain kind of property right that the people using it own.

The title company will publish a report with its results once it's completed. The title search and report will disclose any current issues and claims on the title that can result in further litigation.

Without completing this step of the title process, mortgage providers will not grant a mortgage. Meanwhile, the home buyer and the mortgage company's investment were protected by removing obstacles from the title before the home sale.

Following the publication of the title report, the title company will produce a title opinion letter, which will affirm or deny the title's legality, as well as an abstract of the title, which is essentially a summary of the report.

filling out a title insurance document

Issue Title Insurance

The title company's next responsibility is to provide insurance that covers the lender and the buyer. 

The home buyer is required to purchase the lender's title insurance to ensure the value of the mortgage if there are any upcoming title problems. However, the said insurance will not protect home investment; title companies provide owner title coverage instead. 

Although most states do not need it, owner's title insurance protects the house equity if an unforeseen problem arises with your title. In the event of a lawsuit or title fraud, both forms of insurance are meant to safeguard your investment.

Escrow And Closing

Managing the escrow and supervising the closure of your house transaction is the last and most important duty of a title business. The escrow account protects the money transfers—such as earnest money, down payment, and closing expenses and fees—that are necessary to finish the sale or acquisition of your property.

The deed, title, and other legal papers are some of the documents the title business maintains and safeguards before the closing. When the time comes for your home to close, everyone usually gathers at the title office to sign the paperwork, finish any outstanding business, transfer the monies, and transfer ownership—all while being guided by the firm. While some states handle this phase through an escrow agency or real estate attorney, many states still employ the title business as the administrator of all closing processes.

Disbursing The Funds

Disbursing the closing funds is part of the closing process for your house. The loan proceeds will be mailed to the title firm by the lender. 

Meanwhile, the buyer will also give the title company a share of the closing money. Cashier's checks or wire transfers are some of the payment platforms accepted. The deal is considered completed once all payments are paid to the right party, which is the seller.

The Right Title Company

Now that you know the basics, the next step is finding the right title company in Indiana.

Just like how you would look for a reliable real estate agent, you should evaluate several title companies to see how helpful, responsive, and upfront they are about their procedures. 

Ask your real estate agent or attorney for referrals if you have trouble deciding which title firm is best for you. 

Every day, these professionals deal with title companies in real estate transactions, and they have reputable, courteous organizations that they will use again and time again. To learn how to choose the right title agency, click this link.

While buying a house is an exciting accomplishment, the formal process of becoming a homeowner involves several steps, from making an offer to signing papers at the closing table.

Every action you take is essential to safeguarding your future investment. Obtaining an inspection, a house appraisal, and a property title search are some of the most important steps. 

To help understand how doing a property title search might protect your new house, let's examine the significance of this process.

What Is A Title Search?

Usually, we assume that the home seller has the right to sell the house when you purchase one. That presumption, however, may come back to haunt you if someone else knocks on your front door and has a lien or claim on the property.

To establish the true, legal owner of a piece of land, a property title search is conducted to look through public records. Any liens or claims made against a property that can have an impact on a purchase should also be found through a title search.

Why Is A Title Search Necessary?

Discovering the property's owner is only the first step towards purchasing it. It's possible that the present owner isn't even aware of any prior claims to the title of the property. Because mortgage liens and other comparable debts, along with easements and restrictive covenants, follow the property and not the owner, you may be responsible for the debts of a prior owner.

If you choose not to have a title search performed or if the search reveals encumbrances such as unpaid property taxes, homeowners association (HOA) dues, and unpaid invoices for prior home modifications, you may be responsible for them. This is the reason that, as part of the mortgage underwriting procedure, mortgage lenders demand title searches and title insurance.

homeowner doing research about title company

How Do Title Searches Determine A Property's Owner?

A title search examines public records about a property. To establish a chain of title and verify that a sale is the legitimate owner, an attorney or title business will typically employ several legal documents. Additionally, the title search locates any monetary or legal claims made against the property.

The Process

The expert who searches public records for titles is known as a title abstractor. To create an abstract of the title, they compile all the pertinent data and court records they can locate about a property. A chronology of all obtainable documents and transactions about a property is included in the abstract of the title.w

The abstract may contain information about the property's historical and present owners, easements that traverse it, and any relevant wills or lawsuits.

The Findings

Financial rulings against the property's owner that could have an impact on your finances down the road can be found via a title search. Liens against the home, easements, and unpaid property taxes are a few possible issues with the title. You're happily ever after in your new house could be jeopardized by outstanding claims.

Your home title search needs to show that the property is free and clear to avoid problems in the future.

Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the possibility of a title claim against a property. For instance, you can obtain a title warranty or buy title insurance. 

For many house buyers, the one-time payment of a title insurance policy—which is typically between 0.5% and 1% of the purchase price of the home and included in closing costs—is worth it because it can help safeguard your ownership claim to the property.

Who Does The Title Search?

The title firm or lawyer usually handles the title search, although the lender or home buyer may also conduct this.

Should you choose to conduct the title search on your own, locations such as the county courthouse, recorder's office, and assessor's office will have the necessary records.

Allowing experts, like real estate lawyers, to manage this aspect of the house-buying process might be a wise decision. Untrained eyes may find legal paperwork confusing, leading you to miss something crucial.

How Long Does A Title Search Take?

Depending on how complicated the papers are related to a property, a title search's speed will change.

Multiple sources must be consulted to collect records for a title search, which could cause a delay if an office takes a long time to reply.

It can take a few hours or weeks for the title company Indiana examiner or attorney to go through the documents and find any unresolved claims once they are in their possession. However, title searches usually take a week or two to finish.

Old Home Vs New Home

There are usually fewer papers to look up in a newer house than in an older one. Due to its lengthier time on the market, an older home will probably have more records to evaluate. This may cause the title search to take longer.

You shouldn't rush your attorney or the title company Indiana examiner, even if it can be annoying to wait. To assist you in avoiding any future problems with the home, give them the time they need to complete their work completely.

How Much Does A Title Search Cost?

A title search typically costs between $75 and $200. Depending on the state you're buying in, the pricing may change. Upon completion of the investigation, you ought to obtain a report that is straightforward to read and highlights any encumbrances that need to be cleared up before proceeding with the acquisition.

If you conduct a title search yourself, the cost can be significantly reduced. However, this approach can take a while, and if you are uncomfortable using "legalese," you might overlook a lien or debt and fail to recognize that your title isn't free and clear. A title search will provide you confidence and peace of mind as you proceed with your property purchase, so it could be a smart idea to leave this stage to the experts and budget for the cost of title fees.

If you conduct a title search yourself, the cost can be significantly reduced. However, this approach can take a while, and if you are uncomfortable using "legalese," you might overlook a lien or debt and fail to recognize that your title isn't free and clear. A title search will provide you confidence and peace of mind as you proceed with your property purchase, so it could be a smart idea to leave this stage to the experts and budget for the cost of title fees.

Buying a home involves a long process, including a title search. And while it may take your time, money, and energy, it can help a lot, especially in avoiding bigger problems in the future. 

If you're planning to buy a home and conduct a title search, we're here to help. Call us at 317-214-6023 to learn more.

8315 W. 10th Street
Indianapolis IN 46234
317-214-6023

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