Imagine you have a home that you own free and clear, then one day you get a knock on your door and find out you are being evicted. There is a new type of fraud that is becoming more widely done by criminals. Deed fraud and title theft are rising at an alarming rate, and those that have a deed need to take steps to protect themselves.
As real estate owners and business experts, we understand the significance of regular upkeep, property insurance, and other regular tasks intended to protect the value of what is, for many of us, our most significant asset. Recent stories in several states indicate that people from all walks of life have discovered that they are no longer the home or real estate owner they knew to be theirs. This can be every property type, from a home to a business or any other property with a title.
How can this type of fraud occur? This is especially difficult to answer when purchases of real estate require identity safeguards that fall under regulations. The protocols in place were intended to ensure that transfers are valid and the title’s chain is preserved. For honest owners, the constraints might seem unnecessary and inconvenient steps to take. However, despite these steps, some criminals can get past them and take over your home.
All fifty states and the District of Columbia require written documents to transfer real estate property ownership. A review of the requirements show that the following must be on the deed:
- A title stating the nature of the document
- The name of the property owner of record
- A granting clause that states the owners intent to convey the property to the buyer
- The purchaser’s name
- A detailed, formal description of the property
- The signature and printed name of the grantor or an authorized representative
- An acknowledgment by a notarial officer
Forgery is the act of illegally making a false document or altering the original document to be used as if not false. Forgery is a criminal offense in the US and, in many states, is a high-degree misdemeanor or even a felony. The criminal charges depend on the details of the crime, including the amount and the document’s nature; forging deeds generally leads to a high-level offense.
Most fraudulent deeds contain more than one forged detail, and in some cases, each separate detail carries a charge. The owner or an authorized person must sign all authentic property deeds so that a fraudulent document may have a fake signature. A fraudster may pose as the real estate owner and sign the deed in a notary presence.
If the forged deed containing all the forged and fraudulent information is entered into the public record, the fraudster can now perpetuate the forged deed easily. Once that junk data is in circulation, it becomes an additional issue because now it can be accessed as a real estate purchase, mortgage, title search, and credit check, all the while coming across as authentic.
Anyone who holds a deed can become a victim of title theft or title fraud, but knowing it can go a long way in preventing it. There are companies that you can pay a monthly fee to monitor activity specifically relating to your deed. Or you can check it regularly to ensure it is still in your name and has the correct information on it.
If you have any elderly family or friends who own their home, you need to protect them against this type of fraud. You also need to keep an eye on documents of your family or loved ones who have passed away because it is common for these criminals to watch for obituaries so they can take over the deeds of the deceased’s properties.
If you become a victim of title theft, you should contact authorities immediately and quickly gather all the documents and prove that you are the property’s true owner. The key is to act fast when it comes to this type of theft because if you don’t discover you are a victim until you are being evicted from your own home, it could be very difficult to reverse the fraud.About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual bookkeeping, providing service to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks™️ file, critical financial documents, and back-office tools in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of certified US-based accounting professionals provide bookkeeping, record storage, performance reporting, and controller services including training, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, process and controls advisement, and bill-pay. With flat-rate service plans, Complete Controller is the most cost-effective expert accounting solution for business, family-office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.