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Stealing Home: The Hidden Dangers of Deed Theft

Imagine purchasing your dream home. Maybe it has a charming picket fence. Or maybe it’s nestled in a quaint town and boasts a blooming garden. Then imagine waking up one day to find out that your cozy home, the one you've poured your heart and soul into, suddenly belongs to someone else. That's the nightmare called title or deed theft.

Title theft occurs when someone swipes the ownership of property from its rightful owner undetected. This crime operates through identity theft, forged documents, and cyber hacking. Perpetrators exploit personal information to assume the identity of property owners, falsifying deeds and mortgage documents. Alternatively, they infiltrate online databases or intercept mail, enabling them to execute fraudulent property transfers unnoticed. Deed theft can lead to a homeowner losing their residence, and legal and financial issues, including damaging the homeowner’s credit profile.

How do you keep yourself from becoming an unsuspecting victim? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Be vigilant. Regularly monitor your property records, transactions and credit reports for suspicious activity, such as unauthorized transfers or fake documents. If you stop receiving your tax or water bills or see a sudden increase in your utility bill, it may be a sign of title fraud.
  2. Consider investing in title insurance. This provides a safety net, offering financial protection in the event of deed-related fraud.
  3. Keep your personal information under lock and key. Shredding documents containing sensitive data and utilizing secure digital channels for online transactions can help prevent identity theft and unauthorized access to personal records.
  4. Check if your city offers a Recorded Document Notification Program. These programs provide alerts about legal changes, like property ownership.
  5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of a company or individual that “guarantees” or “promises” that you will receive a loan modification or any other outcome with your mortgage. Legitimate organizations and trustworthy people can only promise to do their best for you. They cannot guarantee results.1
  6. Think twice about paying upfront fees. It’s almost always illegal to ask for upfront fees for a loan modification. If you’re asked to pay upfront for this service, be skeptical.1
  7. Remember a caveat about mortgage assistance companies. Never give your deed or transfer ownership of your home to a mortgage assistance company. A legitimate organization or trustworthy individual will not ask you to transfer your property rights to them.1
  8. If your property is vacant, check it often to make sure it is not occupied illegally. Ask someone you trust to check on your house and to keep mail from piling up if you are going out of town for a long time.2
  9. Make sure your will clearly states who should inherit your property when you pass away.2 This reduces the chances of a thief claiming your property instead of your heir.

Homeowners who think they are victims of deed fraud should report this crime to their local police or sheriff and the district attorney’s office in the area where the property is located. Additionally, victims should retain a certified copy of the falsified documents and consult an attorney and their financial planner for guidance.3

Title theft may lurk in the shadows, but with knowledge and vigilance, you can defend yourself. By arming yourself with awareness and proactive measures, you can protect your most valuable assets and preserve the sanctity of the hearth and home.



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Translations of any materials into languages other than English are intended solely as a convenience to the non-English-reading public. We have attempted to provide an accurate translation of the original material in English, but due to the nuances in translating to a foreign language, slight differences may exist.

Las traducciones de cualquier material a idiomas que no sean el inglés son para la conveniencia de aquellos que no leen inglés. Hemos intentado proporcionar una traducción precisa del material original en inglés, pero debido a las diferencias de la traducción a un idioma extranjero, pueden existir ligeras diferencias.

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