For many homeowners, home title fraud represents an unknown threat. Two decades ago, there was little reason to believe that fraud involving your home title could result in long, expensive legal battles. Now, however, there are more home title thefts than ever before, and the practice seems to be growing thanks to the widespread availability of online information.
Home title fraud is a form of identity theft that occurs when a thief steals a homeowner’s information and uses it to create a fake home title transfer. That transfer is filed with the local assessor’s office, then the perpetrator seeks loans using the victim’s property as collateral. Many people who have been victims of home title fraud don’t even know that the crime has occurred until they are notified of a foreclosure on their property when loans for which they never applied end up in default. While most cases are sorted out in the court, the process can take up to two years and cost the victim thousands in legal fees. Fortunately, the rise in this crime has led to better ways of combatting it, including home title protection services that monitor changes to your home title and notify you immediately if they occur. While securing a home protection plan is a good first step to avoiding title fraud, there are a few other things you can do. Read more to learn a few tactics for avoiding home title fraud.
Hire a Third-Party Service
The first, most important step you can take in protecting yourself from the effects of home title fraud is hiring a third-party service to monitor your title. The features of such services vary by provider, but at the minimum, the service should monitor your property titles and immediately notify you if any changes are filed. Some services take protection a step further by helping you to file a claim of false title with your county property assessor, which will put a red flag on your title so that lenders will exercise caution when your property is listed as loan collateral. Some provide title insurance while others also include a title “lock” in the list of services that prevents your title from being changed without additional clearance from you.
Check Title Information Often
If you don’t have a title protection service on retainer, you can mitigate your risk by actively checking your title information at frequent, regular intervals. You’ll need to make sure that information hasn’t changed. If there have been title alterations, you will have to quickly file a dispute to secure your title and warn potential lenders that your title information is in question.
Watch the Mail Vigilantly
Most of us casually sort through paper mail before tossing out anything that looks like junk. However, when it comes to home title fraud, it pays to increase your vigilance when filtering through mail. If you see any bills or notices from lenders or services that you don’t patronize, that could be a sign that your title has been falsified and your property has been used as collateral fraudulently. Also, if you suddenly stop receiving utility bills or tax assessor notices at your address, that can be a sign that title fraud has been perpetrated. Often, title thieves will change your mailing address so you may not see some of the primary indications of title fraud.
Check Your Credit Report
Home title fraud may not necessarily appear on your credit report since thieves create false identities to remove your name from the title through transfer. However, you should still watch your credit report for identity theft. The same methods of gaining information for title theft are used for identity theft. If you see that there is fraudulent activity on your credit report that points to identity theft, follow up immediately by checking your home title information.
Though home title fraud has increased in frequency, there are things that you as a homeowner can do to mitigate your risk. By finding a quality third-party monitoring service to remaining vigilant about mail and other communications, you can avoid becoming a victim of this lucrative type of fraud. For more information on how you can protect yourself from home title fraud, visit Secure Title Lock at www.securetitlelock.com/.