Cyberthieves Target Homeowner’s Titles and Deeds – It may seem hard to believe, but criminals can “steal” homes by forging signatures and using fake IDs.They’re called Cybertheives.
In fact, as the rate of identity theft increases, more and more thieves are fraudulently putting their names on property ownership documents such as titles and deeds.
How do cyberthieves commit these crimes? They can illegally refinance a home mortgage. Then, they abscond with the cash amounting to the difference between what is owed and the equity remaining. If they do not pay the mortgage due on the refinancing, the lender can foreclose on a home.
Another illegal method used by thieves is opening a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and not making payments on the monthly amounts due. That ploy also can lead to a foreclosure on a home of an unsuspecting property owner.
Seniors can be particularly vulnerable to home stealing: Con artist cyberthieves can offer to refinance a senior’s home and steal the deed in the process. The owner is none the wiser until foreclosure proceedings begin.
Thieves also target second homes or other real estate holdings since owners may not be paying as much attention to what is happening with that property as with their primary residence.
How, then, can homeowners protect themselves from cyberthieves and nefarious criminal behavior?
First and foremost, homeowners must be aware and alert about any financial activity relating to their property.
Having title insurance can be a protection against title fraud. Homeowners who did not pay for title insurance when buying a new home can always purchase it later from a title company.
Making sure you are receiving bills pertaining to your mortgage or other regular monthly homeowner expenses is also a way of keeping an eye out for title fraud. Missing bills may be a red flag that thieves–not you–are in control of your property. Also, monitor your credit reports regularly or enroll in credit-monitoring services.
Homeowners also can purchase title-monitoring services for a monthly fee. However, property owners can avoid this expense by monitoring county records themselves. Signing up for county a fraud-alert system if available is another method of keeping informed about suspicious activity relating to property ownership.
If you are a victim of title theft, file a report with your local police department and notify your lender and title insurance company. Also, call companies where the fraud occurred and notify your creditors. In addition, get copies of your credit reports.
Being aware is the best protection against title and deed fraud. Keep in mind “home stealing” and similar crimes increase as thieves find ways to acquire more and more personal information to use with their cybercrime activities.
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