Your home is one of your most important investments, but it is not immune from fraud and forgery that could threaten your ownership. Since homes are so valuable, they can easily become the target of someone trying to commit theft. You should always remain vigilant against home title fraud, and here is the information you need to make a plan.
What Does Home Title Fraud Mean?
Home title fraud is a term referring to potential forgery or other criminal acts that can transfer ownership of a home without an owner’s consent. The true owner does not agree to, or perhaps even know about, this transfer. Sometimes, the person committing the fraud might be trying to move the home into their name; other times, they may try to procure a loan that they don’t intend to repay by using the home as collateral, leaving the real owner financially liable for the debt.
Regardless of in what form the fraud occurs, you may be left without recourse if you do not have coverage from title insurance, or if you do not catch the issue early enough. That is why taking a proactive approach to protecting your home from title fraud is important as it can save your home.
Protecting Your Home from Title Fraud
Title fraud often occurs due to some inaccuracy with the deed of the property. Simply submitting the deed to the public record does not mean that it is accurate, and someone committing fraud will use this to their advantage. The county clerk is only responsible for filing this information, not verifying its accuracy, nor are they responsible for confirming that any change has occurred with the buyer and seller’s consent.
The good news is that there are many steps you can take to shield yourself from the risk of title fraud. Remember to:
1. Keep Your Internet Security High
Title fraud often comes alongside identity theft, which primarily arises out of poor internet hygiene. If you use simple, easy to guess passwords that are the same across all of your important websites such as your bank, email and social media, someone may easily be able to steal your information, pose as you and do whatever they want with your home details. They could take out a home equity loan against your property, in your name, or even “consent” to sell your property. Keep your passwords strong and change them often.
2. Learn About Common Scams
As part of identity theft, you may be subjected to common scams. Keep your internet knowledge up to date so that you can spot phishing attempts, and never click on links or emails that you do not recognize and trust. This could compromise your information and let others see important details about you. Never provide personal information over the phone. If you receive a call claiming to be from an institution you trust, such as your bank, hang up and call them back on their official number to resume the conversation.
3. Maintain Secondary Properties
If you own a second home, vacation home or other location where you do not frequently stay, make sure to visit more often or pay to keep it well maintained. Indications that you do not stay aware of the property, or are often gone from a primary residence, make it a more appealing target for fraud, since it will likely be some time before you notice that something is amiss.
4. Freeze Access to Your Funds
Keeping your credit frozen is a simple way to prevent unauthorized credit lines from being opened in your name. However, if you think that title fraud has already occurred, freeze your bank account as well. If you can stop the fraud perpetuator from successfully transferring the funds for their deal, you may halt their process before significant damage is done.
5. Check Your Title Insurance Coverage
Depending on the type of title insurance coverage that you have, you may be protected against fraud, especially if the fraud attempt started before you closed on the home. This is why securing title insurance is so important. Not all policies will cover this type of fraud, but check with your insurance agent.
Trust the Experts to Help You Secure Protection from Home Title Fraud
Whether you want to keep fraud as far away from your home purchase as possible or you suspect that something is already amiss, you have options. Title insurance is one way to secure your home against fraud, and the experts at Mathis Title Company would be happy to help you understand all of your options. Contact our office to learn more about title fraud protection or to set up an appointment today.