Protect your Custom Home from Scams

By Acme Homes Staff 4-1-2024

Title theft, a subtle yet menacing form of property crime, entails the illicit transfer of a house deed from its rightful owner to another individual using stolen personal information. Additionally, perpetrators might exploit the equity tied up in a property, potentially through tactics like initiating a home equity line of credit (HELOC), as noted by Quicken Loans. In some cases, when homes are left unattended, these criminals may even escalate their schemes to selling or renting out the unlawfully acquired property.

While not widespread, title theft does occur, underscoring the importance of safeguarding one's identity and sensitive data. Elderly individuals, particularly those with substantial home equity, could be particularly vulnerable. According to the FBI, in 2021, approximately 11,500 individuals reported losses exceeding $350 million due to real estate-related scams, though this figure encompasses various forms of fraud, including those related to property advertisements and rental agreements.

To mitigate the risk, homeowners are advised to diligently manage their documentation and periodically verify their details with their local county deeds office, as recommended by the FBI. Vigilance is crucial, including scrutinizing any correspondence from mortgage lenders to ensure it pertains to the correct property.

In the unfortunate event of falling victim to title theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends initiating an identity theft case, notifying creditors of the fraudulent activity, and reviewing one's title insurance policy, which serves to protect homeowners' rights and is often a prerequisite by mortgage companies, according to Quicken Loans.

While some companies offer title protection services, critics argue that these services are not equivalent to title insurance and merely provide alerts after the fact. Maryland's Attorney General's office cautions against relying solely on such services, emphasizing that instances of title fraud are exceedingly rare and typically unsuccessful. Instead, homeowners are urged to prioritize monitoring their identity and keeping a close watch on their credit scores to thwart potential fraud attempts.