Protecting Yourself from Home Title Fraud

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Property fraud can be a real issue if you have a home you don’t live in.

What is home title fraud?

Home title fraud, also known as property fraud or deed fraud, occurs when someone fraudulently records a deed against your property, transferring it to a third party. This type of fraud can result in a third party taking out loans against your property. This perpetrator enters into leases with innocent third parties and even attempts to take possession. Unfortunately, this type of fraud is more common than people may realize, and these types of crimes have increased in recent years.

It’s very similar to someone stealing your credit. If title to your property is stolen, the cleanup process is difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Because title records are publicly available, criminals can access information about your property without your knowledge or consent.

Are you at risk?

While any owner of real estate is at risk for home title fraud, properties with absentee owners or those with little-to-no debt are the biggest target for fraudsters. 

How can you protect yourself?

Just as it’s a good idea to check your credit regularly, it is a good idea to check title to your property regularly as well. Like your credit, there are companies that provide paid monitoring services to detect any changes to title on a property. Other ways to be on the alert include monitoring your credit report and mail for any suspicious activity, regularly accessing home title documents through the county public records website or office, and physically visiting any properties in your name to ensure no suspicious activity.

Jennifer Felten, Esq. is the principal owner of RELAW, APC, a boutique real estate law firm specializing in Escrow Title and Brokerage Law, Real Estate Development, Estate Planning and Probate. Ms. Felten has worked in the real estate industry since 1993, both on the transactional side as an escrow officer, and now as an advisor and litigator on the legal side. Currently she is licensed as an attorney, notary and real estate broker and can be reached at RELAW, APC.