Forged signatures. Fake identities. An unscrupulous individual who uses this paperwork to transfer ownership of your property and then sell it or use other methods to steal your equity. Homeowners are wise to have some concern about the safety of their property’s title. Unfortunately, unscrupulous scammers will try to make the most of these fears. In a recent example running rampant throughout California, scammers are encouraging homeowners to purchase a product that will protect their property from this type of “home title theft.”
Does the product work? That’s debatable. Critics note that the company is profiting off of homeowner’s fears and does not actually protect the home’s title. Instead, it simply notifies homeowners when there is a fraudulent transfer involving the property’s title — a service often provided by local governments at no cost to homeowners.
Is this really a problem?
Home title theft can be an issue. Clear data on the prevalence of the issue is not currently available, but home title theft or fraud does happen.
How can I protect my property’s title?
You can check your property record online, often with your county’s register of deeds. You can also watch for red flags that signal a potential issue. These can include a change in the frequency or expense of utility bills or mailings from a lender with whom you do not conduct business.
What if I believe there is an issue?
If you find an issue when reviewing the county’s register of deeds, know that you have options. Legal recourse is available. An attorney can review the situation and discuss the best options to resolve the issue, which may require action to quiet the title. When completed, this will help reestablish true ownership of the property.