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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!