House Stealing: Can Title Insurance Protect Your Most Valuable Asset?

Home Title Lock

House Stealing: Can Title Insurance Protect Your Most Valuable Asset?

From 2015 to 2019, real estate and rental fraud grew at 2.6X the rate of credit card fraud — reported real estate losses are now 2X as much as credit card fraud

Home Title Fraud 101

Locking the doors and installing an alarm system won’t protect your home from title theft — scammers can take ownership without breaking in

●  A few examples

○  Renting out properties: 2 women in Maryland gained control of 6 houses and began renting them out using forged deeds

○  Manhattan: 30 properties in Manhattan were targeted by a group of 4 people who forged deeds to sell the properties

○  My own grandson: An elderly couple discovered their grandson had mortgaged their home for $360,000 then tried to sell it without their knowledge

○  MLB Stadium: A man falsely transferred the deed of a major MLB stadium in San Diego and held legal ownership for over two years

In 2019, Americans lost $160 million dollars were lost to identity theft — if you can’t protect your identity, your house is at risk

●  How It Works

○  Forged deeds are created using easily accessible online data

■  Property data from public records

●  Homeowner’s identity & home equity

●  Primary address, & contact information

●  Examples of owner’s signature

○  Scammers file paperwork with the county claiming ownership of your home

■  False deed used to profit by

●  Taking out loans against the property

●  Selling the property with a quitclaim deed

●  Inheriting the property after owner’s death

○  The true homeowner is unaware of the scam until they

●  Receive a letter from the lender indicating foreclosure

●  Find they are unable to sell, refinance, or transfer ownership

●  Discover someone else is living at their property

■  By the time the scam is discovered, it’s too late

●  Proving fraud may be difficult or impossible

●  Law enforcement may not be able to intervene

●  Going to court is expensive and takes time

[Call Out: 34% of American homeowners have 100% equity in their property — making them an attractive target for home title]

Are You A Target For Home Title Fraud?

●  Easy Targets For Home Title Fraud

○  Older homeowners are vulnerable

■  Higher home equity makes an appealing target

■  Less adept at preventing online identity theft

■  May be less aware of the signs of fraud

A joint tenancy deed allows a caregiver to claim ownership of a home after the owners dies — and proving fraud is nearly impossible

○  Individuals who own second homes, vacation homes, and investment properties

■  Less attention given to additional properties than main residence

■  May miss foreclosure notices or bills mail to a secondary address

■  Combined these gives scammers more time to get away

[Call Out: Though scammers do their best to cover their tracks, there are ways for homeowners to catch them red-handed]

●  Spot The Signs Of Home Title Fraud

○  Receive unexpected notice of foreclosure proceedings

○  Find out you’ve defaulted on a loan you never requested

○  Receiving financial documents from an unfamiliar lender

○  Sudden rise in utility bills for a vacant property

○  Discover tenants are paying rent to someone else

At age 65, the average American's net worth is $194,226 — 77% of which is in home equity

Protect Your Home From Title Theft

●  What Is Title Insurance?

For homebuyers, title insurance can protect them from hidden bumps in the road that could put their home ownership in question, at the point of sale

○  Protects against past title discrepancies when purchasing a home

■  Inconsistent or conflicting wills

■  Unknown heirs to the estate claiming ownership

■  Undocumented easements

■  Title forgeries

■  Back taxes

■  Filing errors

■  Liens

●  Why Homeowners Need To Lock Their Title

Title insurance doesn’t protect against new fraud attempts once you own your home — Discovering fraud quickly is key to stopping scammers

If you don’t lock your title with a service like Home Title Lock, then you’ll need to manually do ALL of these tasks yourself, which could leave you vulnerable to attacks

○  Keep personal information private

●  Be wary of unsolicited requests for this information

●  Social security number

●  Shred all documents containing your bank account information

●  Other personal information

○  Review your bank account and credit report regularly and look for indications of identity thieves

●  Unfamiliar transactions

●  Unknown new accounts

●  Sudden changes in credit score

●  Unauthorized credit inquiries

○  Track your bills & statements and watch for unexpected changes in

●  Property taxes

●  Utility bills

●  If an expected bill never arrives, it could indicate title fraud or identity theft

●  Mortgage statements

●  Review home information

○  Check county record for correct homeownership information

●  A DIY approach may still leave your home title vulnerable to fraud - lock your title for 24/7/365 protection

●  Home Title Lock24/7/365 protection by:

■  Posting a virtual perimeter around a home’s online title and mortgage

■  Alerting homeowners of any evidence of tampering with a title or mortgage

■  Mobilizing resources to shut down illicit activity

■  Assisting homeowners if the title or mortgage is compromised

If you don't protect your home's title, where will you go once it’s gone?

Don't let strangers in — keep your home title locked

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