How to Prevent Home Title Theft 

There’s nothing worse than not being able to feel safe in your own home. The last thing you should have to worry about is whether your valuables are safe.

But what happens when your most valuable asset is at risk?

If you haven’t heard of home title theft, you’re not alone: many Americans don’t even know such a thing exists.

Your home is one of your biggest investments. That’s why you need to do everything possible to protect it.

In this article,  we discuss how to prevent home title theft, what happens if you’re a victim, and how to solve the problem.

How to Prevent Home Title Theft 

How Common is Home Title Theft

It’s an ongoing debate. Security experts warn that home title theft is a significant issue. On the other side, real estate professionals say it’s nothing to concern yourself with.

Then why do you have to learn how to prevent home title theft? Is it a real threat?

If you’re one of the lucky ones and haven’t been affected, it can be easy to overlook home title theft. Just because nobody in your inner circle is a victim, it doesn’t mean the crime isn’t real.

You may not be aware of it, but home title theft is on the rise.

According to the 2019 FBI report, 467,361 people reported cybercrimes. Of those, 11,677 had real estate as their target. Those people lost over $221 million.

Another report from the Journal of World Economic Research puts the figure at $547 million in 2020.

There’s no doubt that it happens. The real question is how common is home title theft? And it’s a difficult one to answer.

Though incidents of home title theft happen all the time, the number is unclear. This is due to a lot of reasons.

Most times, the rightful owners don’t report it because they aren’t aware that their home was stolen. This means the theft can go unnoticed for months or even years after it happened.

Being aware of the fraud is only the start of even more headaches for the homeowner. They will often have to jump through hoops to reclaim their property.

Banks and government officials often fail to give victims the attention they deserve.

This is why it’s important that you learn how to prevent home title theft. There are certain precautions you can take to protect your most valuable investment.

How Can Your Home Title Be Stolen

Home title theft involves many crimes, such as identity theft and forgery. According to the FBI, this is how it actually happens:

  • First, the criminals choose a property to steal
  • Then, they search public records to find your personal information
  • They use your credentials to create supporting documentation (fake IDs, social security cards, etc)
  • They then notarize the deed with your forged signature
  • The last step is to file the deed with the Register of Deeds

You’re likely wondering how can your home title be stolen if the process goes through a notary.

In most cases, the criminals forge notary stamps too. In other instances, the notary is an accomplice.

In our article, we cover different cases of deed theft and how they actually happened.

How Do You Know If Your Home Title Has Been Stolen

If you want to prevent title theft, the first step is to be aware of any red flags and find out if you’re already at risk.

Deed theft can go unnoticed for long periods of time, even though the signs are there.

Your mail can reveal clues about possible identity theft. Be on the lookout for bills that go missing. Or if you receive another person’s bills, it could be a sign indicating more suspicious activity.

If your credit score drops for no reason, it could mean there are others using your name.

If you own other properties, evidence that someone has been there recently can also be a sign of deed fraud.

Best Identity Protection

What to Do if You’re a Victim of Home Title Theft

Although house stealing involves many crimes, identity theft is at the root of it. If you suspect somebody stole your personal information, you should report identity theft right away.

How to prevent home title theft from causing further damage (according to the FTC):

  1. Reach out to the companies where the fraud occurred and ask them to suspend your accounts
  2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports at the 3 credit bureaus
  3. Report identity theft to the FTC either online or by calling their number
  4. Reach out to your local police department and ask to file a report with them

Even if it turns out there was no fraudulent activity yet, you still have to take certain precautions.

Contact your financial institution or bank to find out what actions you should take. It is likely that you will need to close and reopen your accounts in the event of any fraudulent activity.

How to Prevent Home Title Theft

Although deed theft is a crime you can’t predict, there are ways to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

Here’s how to prevent home title theft in 5 easy steps.

  • Be Wary of Suspicious Activity

Only because you see information or documents in writing or email form, doesn’t mean it’s true. Double-check on contracts, loan applications, tax returns, bills, and statements before signing.

Be wary of someone that may want your signature or bank information. Keep your guard up to avoid becoming a victim of home title theft.

  • Check Credit Reports Often

As a U.S. consumer, the three major credit bureaus allow you to view your credit report. You can request this for free with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Another option is to use an identity theft protection service. This monitoring service checks for changes to your credit score and alerts you of potential privacy issues.

  • Check Your Property

If you own second homes, you’re likely not paying enough attention to them. It’s a good idea to check for activity at your other properties.

Your lack of presence at these houses makes them particularly vulnerable.

You might not notice bills and other mail you receive at this address. And sometimes you might discover another family has moved in. Don’t let criminals outsmart you.

  • Consider Your Cyber Security Practices

Cybercriminals are always after two things: your data and your identity. Protect yourself by choosing a super-strong password that’s hard to crack.

Consider using a VPN app when surfing the internet. VPN is especially helpful if you’re using public Wi-Fi. It helps you protect your sensitive data, including passwords and personal information.

A home title monitoring service is the best way to protect yourself against deed thieves.

It’s a straightforward process. You sign up for a subscription and they keep an eye on your title for you. You can depend on them to notify you if someone tries to change it.

And in the unfortunate event that someone steals your title, you have their support. There are safeguards and policies in place to help you resolve this issue.

Some title lock providers even cover legal and expert fees on your behalf.

Our article discusses the pros and cons of home title lock and whether you should invest in a service like that.

Best Identity Protection

Does Title Theft Insurance Really Protect You?

When you bought your home, it was your biggest investment. And you even paid for some sort of insurance.

But the fine print doesn’t always tell you what you think it does.

Lender’s title insurance gives the mortgage company peace of mind. This is a safety net in case there are any disputes with the title to the property. But this doesn’t cover you as the homeowner.

Owner’s title insurance can cover you against a host of problems with the title to the property. For example, an error in the legal description, an outstanding lien, or an undisclosed interest.

Yet, owner’s insurance doesn’t protect you against every possible claim someone could bring against you. It doesn’t protect against any problems that arise after you buy the property.

This means you’re not covered if somebody tries to steal your house. If you’re dealing with a real estate problem, you’ll want to consider working with a legal professional to help resolve the issue.

But identity theft cases are expensive and not covered by title theft insurance. A home title lock service usually offers coverage for legal and expert fees.

Final Thoughts

Home title theft is an unfortunate crime that can lead to a lot of other problems.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent it from happening to you.

By educating yourself about home title theft and protecting the investment that is your home, you can keep it in your family for years to come.

Protect your investment with a home title monitoring service. Our reviews will help you choose the right one for you.

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