What is Deed Fraud?

General Advice

AUG 15, 2023

Deed fraud, also known as property title fraud, occurs when a fraudster unlawfully transfers the ownership of a property to themselves or another party without the true owner's knowledge or consent. This scam often targets properties with a clear title and no mortgage since it's easier for scammers to manipulate the ownership records. Once the fraudster succeeds in changing the property's title, they can attempt to sell it, take out a mortgage, or leverage it for financial gain, leaving the true owner unaware of the fraudulent transaction.

How Does Deed Fraud Happen?

Forged Deeds

Fraudsters may create fake documents or forge the signature of the property owner to transfer ownership to themselves or an accomplice.

False Identity

Scammers may use stolen or fictitious identities to pose as property owners and initiate a fraudulent property transfer.

Impersonation of Property Owners

In some cases, criminals may pose as the rightful owners during notarization or other property-related transactions to change the property title.

Property Record Manipulation

Deed fraud can also happen through unauthorized access to public property records or the computer systems of government agencies responsible for recording property transactions.

Protecting Yourself from Deed Fraud

Regularly Monitor Property Records

Stay vigilant by checking your property records regularly to detect any unauthorized or suspicious activity related to your property's title.

Purchase Title Insurance

Title insurance can offer protection against title fraud, covering any losses you may incur due to fraudulent property transfers.

Guard Your Personal Information

Be cautious about sharing sensitive personal information online and offline, as identity theft is a common precursor to deed fraud.

Consult with Legal Professionals

Seek legal advice from a real estate attorney when dealing with property transactions to ensure all documentation is legitimate and secure.

Report Suspicious Activity

If you notice any irregularities or suspect potential deed fraud, report it to your local law enforcement and the appropriate real estate authorities immediately.

Opt for Homestead Exemption

In some jurisdictions, homestead exemption protects a portion of your property's value from creditors and fraudulent property transfers.

Deed fraud is a hidden threat that can devastate property owners by robbing them of their most valuable asset. As property transactions become increasingly digital and accessible, the risk of falling victim to this scam rises. Therefore, it is crucial to remain vigilant and proactive in safeguarding your property ownership rights. By monitoring your property records, securing title insurance, and seeking professional advice, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of falling prey to deed fraud.

This content is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, or insurance advice.


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