The title to a home is a significant document, as it is used as proof to show who owns a home. The owner of a home can easily be looked up by who is listed on the title. Criminals may take advantage of this information by making it appear as though they own the home in order to obtain loans against it. This is almost always a case of identity theft. After finding the home they wish to target, the criminal will forge the deed, and register the home in their name. They then will forge a discharge of the mortgage and borrow against the title. To obtain the largest loan possible, they will usually target a home that is mortgage free and an owner that has a good credit rating. Here are some ways that you can practice title fraud protection and avoid this situation.
Be Aware of Who Asks for Loans
In most cases, the person that decides to commit this type of crime is close to the homeowner and will test whether or not they can take advantage of them. It may begin with the person asking for small loans while providing stories about going through a difficult time. Their goal is to gain your trust and important financial information by playing on your emotions. Once they obtain the proper information and have your trust, they will proceed with the fraud.
Lock Away Personal Information
You most likely have certain personal information in your home, such as your social security card, birth certificate, and financial statements. It’s nearly impossible to tell which people will attempt to view these documents to commit identity theft, so you don’t want anyone viewing this information. Keeping it locked away whenever someone enters your home is a wise decision. If they don’t have access to this information, it’s impossible for them to commit identity theft. Almost all cases involve the victim sharing or providing access to the person committing the crime rather than them taking it.
Avoid Providing Personal Information Over the Phone
A common way that criminals attempt to steal from a person is calling them over the phone or contacting them online. Criminals may be able to disguise the phone number to appear as though they are calling from a reputable source. Whenever you’re contacted, you should avoid providing your personal information, such as your social security number or bank information. The only way you should provide it is if you call the organization directly. This will provide the assurance that you’re speaking with the organization and providing your information to the right people. Additionally, it’s a good idea to ensure that the organization will contact you by phone, as some organizations, such as the IRS, will only contact you through the mail.
Be Aware of Emails Asking for a Login
Criminals that are looking to steal your personal information are unscrupulous and may attempt to pretend to be a financial institution to retrieve your information. A financial institution will never ask that you sign into your bank account through an email. If you receive an email that asks you to complete this task, it’s a sure sign that fraud is taking place. At this point, it’s a good idea to contact your bank to ask any questions you may have and ensure nobody else has attempted to access your account.
Title fraud occurs when a criminal attempts to create the appearance that they own the title to your home. This will allow them to borrow against your home, even if you’ve paid off your mortgage. These tips for title fraud protection will allow you to avoid this potentially dangerous situation.