Owning a home is probably one of the biggest investments most people will make. Unfortunately, the value of your home puts it at risk of being targeted by thieves. Most people think of home theft as someone physically breaking in through a door or window. However, there is another kind of robbery that property should be aware of — title theft.
This type of crime is becoming increasingly common, as criminals can use stolen identities to gain access to people’s homes without ever breaking in. As a result, victims of title fraud can suffer financial losses and other long-term damages.
Here is everything homeowners need to know about title theft and how to protect themselves.
What Is Title Theft?
Real estate scams involving home title theft occur when a perpetrator takes advantage of a homeowner by using their personal information to forge a deed and secure ownership of the property.
This can leave the homeowner vulnerable to foreclosure and credit damage if the thief gets a home equity loan or line of credit in the homeowner’s name and fails to make payments.
Protecting Yourself from Title Theft
Homeowners can safeguard themselves against the consequences of title theft by taking several preventative measures.
Get a Title Insurance
A title company can help with your safety strategy. Title insurance protects a property owner or lender against financial loss or damages if any disputes arise over the property’s ownership. The insurance policies also safeguard against challenges to a title, such as unpaid taxes and liens.
If you did not purchase an owner’s title insurance policy at closing, it is highly recommended that you do so.
You have the right to a free annual credit report from all three main credit bureaus. Examining your credit report regularly can help you detect any suspicious activity, such as newly opened accounts in your name or unauthorized modifications to your current accounts.
Secure Personal Information
Private information in a criminal’s hands is a recipe for disaster. Destroy documents that contain your personal information, such as bank statements and bills. Do not take your Social Security card or birth certificate when you are out and about. Furthermore, never give out private data online or over the phone unless you are certain of who you are speaking to.
Keep Track of Bills and Mail
It is essential for homeowners to be aware of the regular bills they receive, such as utility and mortgage payments. If bills suddenly stop coming or you receive unfamiliar mortgage documents, it could be a warning sign that your home title is being tampered with. Monitoring your homeowner’s mail is a vital step in protecting against theft and fraud.
Stay Up to Date on Common Scams
You can avoid home-related scams by understanding the common tactics that criminals use. Someone claiming to be a real estate agent or lender is an example of a fraudster scheme. They offer deals that seem too good to be true.
Additionally, be aware that some scammers may target older homeowners with reverse mortgage scams and other fraudulent transactions. Avoid divulging financial or personal information unless you can verify the identity and legitimacy of the person or organization.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, people are in danger of losing something that belongs to them, especially a commodity as valuable as a home. However, that is the world we live in. Home title theft happens, and property owners must know how to protect themselves.