As homeowners celebrate the final payment of their mortgage, it is essential to remain vigilant in protecting one’s identity and assets. Unfortunately, paying off a mortgage can expose individuals to various scams and theft associated with their home. It is crucial to understand the risks and take appropriate measures to safeguard oneself from potential threats.
Title Theft: A Real Concern
One form of theft that individuals need to be aware of is title theft. This deceptive practice involves transferring a house deed from the rightful owner to another person’s name using confidential personal information. Additionally, thieves may also exploit the equity in a home by opening a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Unscrupulous individuals might even go as far as selling or renting out an unoccupied property.
Title theft is not widespread, but it does occur, emphasizing the importance of protecting personal information and identity. Older Americans, especially those with substantial home equity, may face a higher risk. In fact, in 2021 alone, the FBI reported over 11,500 individuals who fell victim to real estate scams, resulting in a staggering loss of more than $350 million. It is important to note that this figure encompasses fraud related to real estate advertisements and rental agreements as well.
Stay Proactive and Shield Yourself
To prevent becoming a victim of title theft or any other fraudulent activities related to homeownership, it is crucial to take proactive steps to safeguard personal information and assets. Here are some precautionary measures worth considering:
By implementing these measures and remaining vigilant, homeowners can minimize the risk of falling victim to title theft and other scams associated with their valuable assets.
While the prospect of paying off a mortgage brings a sense of accomplishment and relief, it is essential not to overlook the potential risks. Safeguarding your identity and assets should remain a top priority, ensuring a secure homeownership experience for years to come.
Protecting Your Home Title: Key Considerations
As a homeowner, it is crucial to safeguard your property against potential title theft and fraud. The FBI advises homeowners to stay vigilant and regularly verify their information with the county deeds office. Additionally, it is important to carefully review any mail received from mortgage lenders to ensure it pertains to your specific property.
In the unfortunate event of falling victim to title theft, taking immediate action is vital. Start by opening an identity-theft case with the Federal Trade Commission and informing your creditors about the fraudulent activity. Moreover, thoroughly examine your title insurance, which not only safeguards your rights as a homeowner but is commonly required by mortgage companies for homebuyers, according to Quicken Loans.
While some companies offer title-protection services, critics argue that these services differ from title insurance. They primarily serve as alert systems, notifying homeowners of a problem after it has already occurred. The Maryland Attorney General’s office cautions against relying solely on such services, emphasizing that title fraud is extremely rare and rarely successful. They assert that if anyone attempts to transfer your property’s deed without your consent or knowledge, as suggested by title lock companies, the transfer is fraudulent and invalid from the start.
Rather than depending solely on title-protection services, the Maryland Attorney General’s office recommends homeowners to actively monitor their identity and regularly check their credit scores. By doing so, homeowners can promptly identify any suspicious activity and protect their interests effectively.
Remember – safeguarding your home title should be a proactive effort combined with staying informed and regularly monitoring your personal information.