Are you aware that thieves and scammers can scam you out of your entire home without even setting foot on your property? Home title fraud is on the rise and it is one of the scariest forms of “home invasion.”
From 2015 to 2019, real estate and rental fraud grew at 2.6x the rate of credit card fraud, and today, reported real estate losses are occurring 2x as much as credit card fraud.
In the modern, online world, with personal information easily accessible online, scammers can transfer ownership of your home without ever breaking in. For instance, 2 Maryland women forged deeds to 6 houses and began renting them out without the real owners knowledge. In Manhattan, 4 people targeted 30 properties and sold them with forged deeds. In another case, an elderly couple discovered that their own grandson had mortgaged their home for $360k, then tried to sell their home right under their noses.
How can this even happen? Unfortunately, it’s pretty simple. Scammers look up easily accessible property data from public records. This includes the homeowners identity and home equity, primary address and contact info, and examples of the owner’s signature. Scammers then claim ownership of the home and file paperwork with the county. They are then given a (false) deed, which enables them to take out loans against the property, sell the property, or inherit it after the owner’s death. The real homeowner is completely unaware all of this is taking place until they either receive a foreclosure letter, discover they can’t refinance or transfer ownership, or they actually find someone else is living on their property.
The best way to protect against title theft is with title insurance. Title insurance can protect homeowners from surprises that could put their ownership in question at the time of sale. Homeowners can also use title lock services to protect against new fraud attempts and discover these attempts before it’s too late. Learn more about home title fraud in the infographic below: