Home Title Theft: The Truth About Home Title Protection

by Adrian Yang

Home Title Theft: The Truth About Home Title Protection

What is a house title? Is it different from the deed?

A deed is *the chefs kiss to transfer property ownership from one person to another, outlining rights and responsibilities, closing costs, and requiring both parties to sign. A property title is the legal right of ownership that comes with owning a property. While a deed is a physical document, a title is just a concept. To guarantee a clear title, mortgage lenders require title insurance to protect against unknown issues. Homebuyers can also conduct a title search to uncover limitations on property use. A clear title grants absolute ownership. Some people use the terms “deed” and “title” interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing.

What Happens If A Property Title Is Stolen?

The thief can take full control of a mortgage and do as they please with it. This kind of crime is known as home title theft, and it’s a nightmare to fix. You might have to go through a long legal process to prove that you’re the rightful legal owner of the property, and that is not the 2023 energy we want.

Additionally, you might have to deal with unpaid bills, property damage, and even eviction notices caused by the thief’s shady moves. It’s crucial to protect your property title and identity to prevent this kind of drama deed theft from happening in the first place.

What To Do If Home Title Theft Occurs

  1. Call your lender’s fraud department to freeze your account and stop any further damage.
  2. Update your login deets for all your financial accounts, like your mortgage, credit cards, and bank accounts. You can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission to get their help.
  3. Let one of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian) know about the home title theft, and don’t forget to grab copies of your credit reports from each bureau as evidence.
  4. Make your way to your local police station with your ID, proof of address, and any docs related to the home title theft and your FTC identity theft claim. It takes a village, get them on board to help you out!

Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship

This is a way to co-own assets, like property, mortgage or bank accounts, with equal rights. When one owner dies, the surviving owner(s) inherit the asset without probate. But, it’s important to know that all property owners are equally responsible for any debt or loans tied to the asset. One downside is that if you pass away first, you lose control over who gets the asset after the sole owner or surviving owners die. Additionally, taxes can apply when assets transfer between owners or to heirs. Other options for co-ownership include tenancy in common, where ownership shares pass to beneficiaries, and transfer on death accounts, where beneficiaries only gain ownership after the original owner dies.

Tenancy in common

Here’s the deal: with TIC, each person has their own separate ownership interest in the property. When someone passes away, their ownership interest in investment property is given to whoever they named in their will, not automatically transferred to the other co-owners like in joint tenancy.

Owners can have different ownership percentages and sell their interest to others, but everyone still has the right to use and occupy the entire property. This can make buying a home with a TIC agreement a cost-effective option, especially when dividing deposits and payments. But there are some drawbacks to consider, like equal liability for debts and property taxes and the potential for one person to force a sale. And when married person or a co-owner passes away, you don’t automatically get their property rights.

You receive letters about a mortgage policy you never applied for

If you receive a letter about a mortgage policy you never applied for, don’t panic. Get in touch with the company and explain what’s going on ,they’ll look into it for you. You might want to place a fraud alert on your credit reports and be on the lookout for any other suspicious activity that could indicate identity theft.

Compare Home Systems

While a home alarm system can enhance the security of your property, it does not completely guarantee protection against home title theft. Along with installing an alarm system, it is essential to obtain title insurance and take measures to safeguard your personal information to ensure full protection against home title lock and any potential threats.

How Common Is Home Title Theft In 2022?

Real estate and mortgage fraud is growing fast, with over 11,000 cases in 2021 resulting in $350 million in losses – that’s a 20% increase in cases and a whopping 525% increase in losses! Home title theft is a major contributor to this. Deed fraud is also on the rise, with a 30% increase in reported losses totaling almost $8.8 billion in 2022. These stats, collected through the Consumer Sentinel Network, are alarming and show concerning trends. 

Stay Educated On Common Scams

Scammers can steal your home title through a few avenues and just a few include phishing, data breaches, unsecured Wi-Fi networks, mail theft, and lost documents. Phishing attacks are becoming more advanced, making it harder to spot fake companies and scams. Data breaches from organizations and unsecured Wi-Fi networks provide easy access to your information.

Mail theft is also a common way scammers obtain sensitive information like your Social Security number. Losing important documents like your deed or mortgage statement can lead to home title theft, so be sure to store them securely. It’s crucial to stay educated on common scams to prevent title theft.

Sole ownership

Not like your favorite MLM scheme, but it is kinda like being the #girlboss of a one-person show. You get to keep all the profits, but you’re also on the hook for any debts and any other liabilities that might come up. So, it’s a lot of responsibility, but it can also mean having complete control over your biz.

Home Title Insurance vs. Title Monitoring: What’s the Difference?

Title insurance is like a safety net for you and your lender in case someone else tries to stake a claim on your property. It covers common issues like unpaid taxes, liens, and competing wills, so you won’t have to pay or shell out cash for legal battles.

Title monitoring or “lock” is more like a watchdog service that keeps tabs on your home’s deed to make sure it’s still in your name. If it detects any changes, it’ll send you an alert, but it won’t actually stop any fraudulent transfers from happening in the first place. 

Get Title Insurance

Getting title insurance is usually a low key process, but it involves some steps like checking the property owner’s title for any problems. It can be different for each property, so it’s important to work with a legit title insurance company or agent. The cost of the insurance may also vary based on the property value and other factors but title insurance protects you from

How To Protect Yourself From Title Fraud

Protect yourself from home title thieves by keeping personal information private, monitoring your credit report, working with reputable professionals, reviewing bills and homeowner mail, and considering home title insurance. Be sure to never give financial information to anyone outside of your title company.

Keep Track Of All Bills And Homeowner Mail

It might not seem like the most exciting task in the world, but it can actually help you avoid some serious headaches down the line.

Keeping track of your bills is important for your financial wellbeing and financial responsibility. You want to make sure you’re paying all your bills on time and avoiding any late fees or penalties. And if you ever spot a bill that you don’t recognize, investigate it right away – it could be a warning sign of fraud or identity theft. Married couples, should split/delegate responsibility of monitoring fraudulent claims, personal finance, and your state’s laws as it pertains to ownership of the property.

When it comes to homeowner mail, it’s also important to keep an eye out for anything unexpected. Scammers posing as a legitimate lender or mortgage banker may send you fake bills or notices that look like they’re from your mortgage lender or title company. By reviewing all homeowner mail, you’ll be able to spot any red flags and take action before it’s too late.

Check Your Credit Report Routinely

Your credit report is basically a report card for your financial life. It shows lenders and creditors how responsible you are with your money, and can have a big impact on your financial future. That’s why it’s crucial to check it regularly and make sure everything is accurate.

By keeping an eye on your credit report, you’ll be able to catch any errors or suspicious activity early on. This can help you avoid financial headaches down the line, like identity theft or fraud. Plus, checking your credit report can also help you monitor your credit score – which is like a summary of how healthy your credit report is.

Having a high credit score can make a big difference in your financial life. It can mean lower interest rates, better loan offers, and more financial opportunities in the future. So don’t let this important task fall by the wayside – make it a regular part of your financial routine and protect your financial future!

Did Someone Forge or Steal Your Home Title? Do This!

In case of suspected theft or forgery of your real estate title, immediate action is crucial to protect your assets. Here are the steps you should take:

Contact your title insurance company right away to report the theft or forgery, and seek guidance on the next steps to take.

File a report with your local police department, providing evidence such as forged documents or suspicious activity.

Check your property’s title at the county recorder’s office for any unauthorized changes.

Consider the legal fees and hiring an attorney to assist you in the legal process of restoring ownership of your property.

Monitor your credit reports regularly for any suspicious activity or unrecognized accounts.

What are the signs of home title theft?

Here are some of the red flags that you should be on the lookout for. Unfamiliar liens or mortgages on your property, missing or weird-looking mortgage statements, and names on property documents that you don’t recognize. If you get a notification about overdue property tax or bills that you weren’t aware of, it could mean someone is trying to snatch your property.

How do I report home title theft?

I know we aren’t all Captain America and it can be hard to jump into action when necessary, but this isn’t something you’ll want to be complacent on! Start by calling up your title insurance company and report the theft or fraud to them. They can help you figure out what to do next. Next, head over to your local police department and file a report. Give them any evidence you have, like those sketchy documents or suspicious activity you noticed.

You should also let your county recorder’s office know. Ask them to double-check any recent public records for changes to your property’s title and make sure everything is legit.

If things get really sticky, don’t hesitate to call in a pro. Consider hiring an attorney to help you navigate the legal process and protect your property rights.

You get an alert from your home title monitoring service

If you receive an alert from your home title monitoring service, investigate further. This could be a sign of title theft, and you should take immediate action to protect your property. Follow up on any alerts and report any suspicious activity to the authorities. Remember, they could have potentially stolen your personal information, so this is not something to be taken lightly. 

What happens when a title is stolen?

When a title is stolen, the thief can use it to transfer ownership of your property to themselves or someone else. They can also take out mortgages or loans against your property, leaving you responsible for the debt. This can be a lengthy and costly process to resolve, and it may require legal action to recover your property. While I’ve always wanted my Elle Woods moment, this probably isn’t where Id want to start. 

You see signs of life at a supposedly vacant property

It’s not uncommon for title thieves to use vacant properties as a base of operations for their fraudulent activities. If you happen to notice any signs of life or activity at a property that’s supposed to be empty, it could very well be a red flag for title theft. These signs could include lights turning on and off, noises coming from inside the property, or even the appearance of someone coming and going from the property.

You get a notice of foreclosure on your property

If you receive a notice of foreclosure on your property due to title fraud, it’s crucial to take immediate action to protect your home equity and ownership rights. First and foremost, contact your title insurance company as soon as possible to report the fraud and seek guidance on next steps. They can assist you in navigating the legal process and taking necessary actions to protect your property.

It’s also important to file a police report to document the fraudulent activity and provide evidence for any legal proceedings. A real estate attorney can help you understand your rights and options in this situation and guide you through the legal process. Additionally, notifying credit reporting agencies can help protect your credit score and prevent any fraudulent activity from impacting your financial well-being.

Don’t underestimate the importance of taking swift action when it comes to title fraud and foreclosure. Ignoring the issue can result in significant financial and legal consequences. Stay vigilant and take all necessary steps to protect your property and ownership rights.

by Adrian Yang Apr 05, 2023