Home title theft is a kind of crime that involves stealing the legal right to a property, such as your home. This can happen when someone steals your identity and uses it to fraudulently take over the title on your property. It’s a growing problem that can have devastating effects on homeowners and their financial well-being.
Here is more information about how home title theft happens, what warning signs to look out for and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.
How Does Home Title Theft Happen?
Home title theft is the act of stealing a home’s title from its rightful owners. This can happen in various ways, but it usually involves someone who has access to your personal information or property.
Title thieves use forged documents to change the title information on your property. They can even forge a deed and get it recorded at the county clerk’s office.
Thieves can also request copies of your recorded documents from the county clerk’s office and use them to commit fraud in a few ways. They might sell or refinance your home and keep the proceeds for themselves. They could drain funds from your account by passing off their name as yours on mortgage payments or other bills.
How Common is Home Title Theft?
Home title theft is an issue that many people don’t think about until it’s too late. But the truth is that this type of fraud is incredibly common, and it impacts homeowners all over the world.
In fact, there were $547 million in losses due to home title theft in 2020, according to the Journal of World Economic Research.
These numbers show how widespread this type of fraud has become in recent years, especially as more people have access to online records and documents that can be used for fraudulent purposes.
What are the Warning Signs for Home Title Theft?
While it’s easy to ignore the warning signs, it’s important to pay attention to them, so you can take steps to protect yourself and your family. Here are some of the most common warning signs of home title theft.
If you have been receiving unpaid bills, or your bills have stopped coming altogether, it can be a sign that someone has taken over your home’s title.
Signs of Activity at Unoccupied Home
If there’s activity going on at your unoccupied home, this can also cause concern. Home title thieves often target unoccupied homes because they’re easier targets than occupied ones.
Notice of Foreclosure
If you receive a notice of foreclosure, it can mean that someone has taken out a mortgage on your home without your knowledge. This can be another sign of home title theft.
5 Tips to Protect Yourself from Home Title Theft
Home title theft is on the rise, and if you’re not careful, it can happen to you. Here are five tips to help you protect yourself from home title theft.
1. Be wary of suspicious emails.
If you receive an email that appears to be from your real estate agent or title company, but it asks for personal information such as account numbers or Social Security numbers, do not respond.
2. Check your credit report regularly.
Make sure there aren’t any inaccuracies on your credit report that can be caused by identity theft. To help monitor your identity and credit, consider signing up for an identity theft and credit protection plan.
3. Keep your important documents safe.
Keep copies of all documents in a safe place and make sure that you have access to them whenever necessary. This includes things like the deed to your home and any other paperwork related to ownership.
4. Physically monitor extra properties.
If you have any additional properties (such as a second home or rental property), it’s important to physically visit them on a regular basis. This way, if anything looks suspicious, you can know about it right away.
5. Get title insurance.
Make sure you have title insurance that protects you against any problems with the title of the property.
These tips can help you prevent loss from theft when it comes to your homeownership. However, no matter how many security measures are taken by homeowners, the risk of property theft still exists. By familiarizing yourself with the warning signs listed above and applying the prevention tips provided, you can help substantially reduce your chances of being victimized by a home title theft.