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How to protect against home title theft
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Security & privacy

This woman’s home was stolen right from under her – Don’t let it happen to you

Your home is likely the largest purchase you’ll ever make. Homeownership is a lifelong commitment between mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, maintenance, renovations, repair, and decorating.

Think about how much email correspondence you get just for your home. Bills and other important documents can get lost in the clutter of your inbox. You can prevent this by creating an email address just for your home. Tap or click here to learn more.

You’ve heard of car theft, but did you know that your home can also be a target? Home title theft is when someone, using fake identification, refiles your title document to sign your property over to them. Then they can sell it and pocket the money. A woman in Arizona recently fell victim to this terrible crime.

Here’s the backstory

A resident of Arizona was searching for her deceased father’s home on the country assessor’s website and immediately realized something was wrong, Arizona’s Family reported.

Debi Gotlieb’s father’s home was still in probate, which typically means the assets were under review by a probate court to determine their distribution to beneficiaries. This can be a long process, and her father’s home should have come up as still under his ownership.

Instead, Debi found the home listed on the market and owned by Zillow. She went to the home and found that all her father’s possessions were gone. She called the real estate agent who sold the house and then contacted the police. The police told her to stay out of the house as it wasn’t her property.

Debi had to hire a lawyer to get the house back before it was sold again.

The scheme

Debi’s family had fallen victim to a crime known as “Deed Fraud.” It can happen to anyone, but one study shows that 90% of deed fraud is committed by the victim’s family or friends, according to a real estate attorney who spoke to Arizona’s Family.

Deed fraud is a type of identity theft. When they claim ownership of the home, the crook uses fake documents and identification. If they need a notary signature (as some states require), they can use a false one or rope in a legitimate notary to help them with the scam.

With the help of her lawyer, Debi was able to get the home back. They sent a demand letter to Zillow and the company withdrew the sale and returned the deed. Though she got her house back, all her father’s possessions were still gone. This included mementos such as family photos.

Debi had an easier time discovering the deed fraud due to her experience as a real estate agent. Someone else might have taken much longer to make the discovery.

Protect your home

Home title theft protection is one way to avoid falling victim to deed fraud. Cybercriminals can locate your home’s title online and remove your name from it. Then they can use their name to take over the title and refile it.

Homeowner’s insurance and standard identity theft programs will not cover home title theft. Our sponsor Home Title Lock protects you from title theft and will help you reclaim your title if you do fall victim and have to go to court.

Sign up at HomeTitleLock.com today to protect your home, and don’t forget to let them know Kim sent you!

Keep reading

Think twice before trying to sell your home for quick cash

PRIVACY 101: How to get photos of your home off Zillow, Redfin and Realtor.com

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