Protecting Your Home: Understanding Home Title Fraud

Protecting Your Home: Understanding Home Title Fraud

Homeowners often pride themselves on the security of their most valuable asset—their home. However, amidst the joy of homeownership lurks a lesser-known threat: home title fraud. This insidious form of identity theft can wreak havoc on unsuspecting individuals, potentially leading to devastating financial losses and emotional distress. 

What is home title fraud?

Home title fraud, also known as deed fraud or house stealing, involves an unauthorized individual illegally transferring the title of a property to themselves or another party without the actual homeowner's consent. Essentially, the fraudster assumes the identity of the homeowner, forges signatures, and files falsified documents with the appropriate authorities to transfer ownership of the property.

What does home title fraud entail? 

Home title fraud typically begins with the perpetrator obtaining personal information about the homeowner, such as their name, address, and other identifying details. The fraudster can acquire this information through various means, including data breaches, phishing scams, or publicly available records.

Once armed with this information, the fraudster proceeds to forge signatures on property transfer documents, often using counterfeit identification to pose as the legitimate homeowner. These falsified documents are then submitted to the relevant government offices responsible for property records, such as the county recorder's office, where they are processed and recorded without proper verification.

How can you protect yourself from being a victim? 

While home title fraud can be a frightening topic, there are several proactive steps homeowners can take to minimize their risk:

  1. Monitor Your Property Title: Regularly review your property title and related documents for unauthorized changes or suspicious activity. Many counties offer online access to property records, making it easier to keep track of any alterations.
  2. Stay Vigilant Against Identity Theft: Safeguard your personal information by practicing good cybersecurity habits, such as using strong, unique passwords, being cautious of phishing attempts, and monitoring your financial accounts for any unusual activity.
  3. Enable Alerts and Notifications: Take advantage of alert services offered by financial institutions and credit monitoring agencies, which can notify you of any suspicious activity related to your property or identity. Some Indiana counties are offering a free service that provides property watch alerts. To search your county, click here
  4. Seek Legal Advice: If you suspect you've fallen victim to home title fraud or encounter any discrepancies in your property title, seek legal counsel immediately to explore your options for recourse and mitigation.