Explaining deed fraud and how homeowners could be in danger.
What is deed fraud and what can you do about it? Deed fraud is also referred to as title fraud. It takes place when a criminal forges the owner's signature for a property and illegally transfers a title without the homeowner's knowledge. In many cases, the criminal quickly sells the home and takes off with the homeowner’s money. Many of the homes targeted are vacant, but some are rentals or homes where someone has passed away.
Once the deed to the house is recorded in the scammer's name, they can do several things, including selling it to a legitimate buyer and then taking off with your money. If you're living in a house that's heavily mortgaged, this is much less likely to happen because a criminal either needs to sell the property or obtain a loan against the property. That is much more difficult to do when the home is occupied and heavily mortgaged.
We’re also here to share three signs that you may be a victim of deed fraud. One is if there are unpaid bills or mortgages that you don't recognize on a property. The second is that there are signs of people living in a vacant property that you own. The third is if utility bills have been changed or transferred.
Then how can you protect your home against deed fraud? First, check the status of your property deed and make sure it's in your name. Secondly, set up free title-alert monitoring. You can also monitor your credit reports for signs of identity theft. Then, make sure you pay attention to incoming bills and monitor the occupancy status of any vacant properties that you have. Finally, be sure to obtain title insurance whenever you buy a home.
In addition, what can you do if you're a victim of deed fraud? Start by reporting the suspected fraud to the Arizona Attorney General's office. You're going to need to hire an attorney to file the documents to correct it. Also, since it involves identity theft, that will need to be addressed.
Then what about insurance? You can buy insurance, but it's only going to come into play after you're a victim of fraud—it's not insurance that stops fraud from happening. If you decide you're going to get insurance, be aware that it won't likely help when a property is in the name of someone other than yourself, like a parent, a grandparent, a trust, an LLC, or an estate. Check with your insurance broker to be sure.
There's nothing to prevent deed fraud from happening, but with title alert monitoring, you can be notified any time a document is recorded that contains the names you have on file with the recorder's office. Our team leader, Randy Lewis set up a title alert monitoring for himself and his family members. Last week, he received a title alert notification of a recorded document with his name on it. It turned out to be another Randy Lewis, but he did have peace of mind receiving the notification. Now we know the system works.
If you want more information, click these links to find out more information about free title alert monitoring and the Arizona Attorney General's office. If you have any questions about the market or real estate in general, don’t hesitate to reach out by phone call, email, or click this link to submit a contact request. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
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