What is Title Fraud?
Title fraud is the involuntary transfer of property ownership without the actual homeowner’s permission or awareness. An individual committing title fraud usually transfers the home’s title to someone else or uses the property as collateral to borrow money. Essentially, home title fraud is the act of a burglar stealing a person’s home – even selling it to another – while the unaware homeowner is still living in it.
As a real estate professional, you can help prevent this massive scam from happening to your clients. Keep reading to see how you
can protect your first-time homebuyer clients from falling victim to home title fraud.
How Does Home Title Fraud Happen?
Home title fraud is a result of identity theft. Criminals are on the internet looking to steal personal information through online transactions and document requests. This type of fraud is seen as one of the many fast-growing cybercrime scams in the nation. The FBI reported 301,580 wire fraud complaints in 2017, resulting in up to $1.4 billion losses.
While older homeowners are usu
ally the target because they have more equity in their homes and are not technology savvy, it can happen to anyone. First-time homebuyers are just as vulnerable if they lack the knowledge to spot a scam or how to protect themselves.
Another target for home title fraud is individuals who own more than one home. It can either be a second home, a vacation home, or a real estate investment property. These homeowners may not pay as much attention to their additional properties, leaving those properties vulnerable to fraudsters to take advantage of.
How to Protect Your Clients from Home Title Fraud Scams
Real estate professionals can help protect their clients from home title fraud by warning them and providing them with the tips they need to catch a scam before it happens. Tell your clients to take these steps regularly to protect their home’s title and their finances.
Check Credit Reports
Checking credit reports can help your clients identify any financial action or changes that may have happened under their name.
Pay Attention To Incoming Bills
Clients should pay close attention to incoming bills – water bills, mortgage bills, electric bills, and others. If they don’t receive an expected bill, it can be a sign of title fraud or identity theft.
Check Home Information
Suggest to your clients that they check their home’s information – titles, insurance, etc. – every year. This way, they can double-check official documents and catch any inconsistencies earlier rather than later.
Get Help from a Title Company
If your clients are serious about protecting their home title, then you can direct them to a title company, such as TitlePlus in Baton Rouge, to con
duct a thorough title search so that they can apply for title insurance.
Title insurance protects your clients if they have any issues with the legal ownership of their home. With a title insurance policy, your client’s property is protected if someone else lays claim to their home. Contact the experts at TitlePlus to conduct a complete and quick title search.