Deed Fraud, Losing Your Home With the Stroke of a Pen
Deed Fraud: Losing Your Home with the Stroke of a Pen
One little known aspect of identity theft is deed fraud. Deed fraud occurs when someone steals your identity, forges your name on a deed, and takes title to your home. While it may seem that it should be a simple matter to get your home back after becoming a victim of deed fraud, nothing in the law is very simple.
Who Do These Thieves Typically Target and What Are the Clues That It Has Happened?
Many times, targets are older property owners as they usually have a lot of equity in their homes. A missing property tax bill or a tax bill on a second property, a vacation home or investment properties are all clues.
Other clues may include a notice for an unpaid water bill, a mortgage payment due notice. Worse evidence is when a notice of default or foreclosure notice is received when you are current or have no mortgage at all.
How Can This Happen?
Deed Fraud and Title theft is when somebody uses a false identity to change ownership on your property title from your name to their name and then secures as many loans as possible using your equity as collateral. This is often done with a notary that was given false identification documents during the signing of the deed.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself and Your Property?
1. Monitor your credit reports Federal law provides you with the right to have a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, leverage this free report by applying once every four months consecutively to the three bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can get your free credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.
2. Check the status of your deed Local registries of deeds across the United States may be accessed online. If this is true for your local registry, you should regularly check on the status of your deed to confirm that no one has done anything affecting your property ownership. Some registries of deeds even have services whereby you will be notified when actions are done that affect your property.
3. Work with a Realtor® to offer a complimentary service for checking the history of your deed. Allison Van Wig of Van Wig & Associates offers such a service, If you need assistance of any kind and would like a quick check to make sure the Tax Records indicate you are the legal owner of your home, just give Allison Van Wig a call or send an email. She can pull those records from the tax rolls and the title company to give you the information you need. She can be reached at 562-882-1581 or [email protected]
Here in California The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs operates the Homeowner Notification Program where once you are registered the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s office sends you copies of documents recorded against your home. This gives you a chance to review the real estate documents to be sure they are legitimate.
Los Angeles County sends hundreds of thousands of notifications out each year. Each year, more than 10,000 homeowners contact Department of Consumer and Business Affairs for help in fighting potential real estate fraud. A recent survey sent along with notifications show more than 96 percent of homeowners approve of the program.
Contact the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (800) 593-8222 to receive more information and to register for the Homeowner Notification Program.
If you have any questions just reach out to Van Wig and Associates by calling Allison at 562-882-1581.