Increasingly we hear ads for title fraud “insurance”. Such insurance is of questionable, or at best limited, value. Yet title fraud is on the rise, enabled by easy access to our title records the internet provides. Years ago, pre internet, I was a sort of “Hall of Records rat”, pouring through old deeds, climbing ladders to reach the books in which they were contained. Always searching, probing, trying to discover an edge.
Today no need to visit this or that Hall of Records in person. Now it’s all on the internet. Result is that crooks do not have to travel in order to ply their trade. Here is a lift from Kiplinger:
The scheme works like this: Fraudsters pick out a house—often a second home, rental, vacation home or vacant house—to “steal.” Using personal information gleaned from the internet or elsewhere, they assume your identity or claim to represent you. Armed with forged signatures and fake IDs, they file paperwork with the county’s register of deeds to transfer ownership of your property to themselves or a third party. They then sell the home or borrow against it, stealing your equity. When they fail to make payments on a loan secured by your property, you could end up in foreclosure or be unable to sell, refinance or pass the home on to heirs.
Another viewpoint appears at first to cast doubt on the validity of concern, but in the end only confirms it. However an article from Smart Business does get to the nub of the issue:
Will a provider of “title theft” protection also pay for a lawyer to represent an owner in seeking to clear title after a forgery?
I guess it’s not a huge surprise. A title theft victim is in a strong position legally to recover their home without need to pay off a fraudulent mortgage. However, the legal costs to achieve that outcome are daunting.
I do not have title theft insurance, but I do check my title records fairly often . . . just in case. It’s not difficult to do and takes less than a minute. Here are the two references mentioned earlier: