Title Theft: Protecting Your Property from Fraudulent Schemes

Title Theft: Protecting Your Property from Fraudulent Schemes

Title theft is a growing concern homeowners should remain mindful of. Knowing how to safeguard your assets from parties seeking to illicitly alter property ownership to exploit it for financial gain can save you from incurring potentially devastating losses.

Common forms of title theft include:

  • Fraudulent Refinance: Thieves use your identity to refinance your property, leaving you burdened with extra mortgage debt.
  • Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) Abuse: They can exploit your equity by opening a HELOC, piling up debt that you’re responsible for.
  • Selling Empty Properties: Thieves may forge deeds to sell vacant properties like rental buildings or vacation homes that you own.
  • Preying on Financially Struggling Homeowners: They might target homeowners facing financial difficulties, owning properties at risk of foreclosure.

These scams often involve creating fake deeds, like “quit claim” deeds, to illegally transfer ownership of properties. Perpetrators exploit loopholes in the system, such as expired notary commissions, to make the forged documents appear legitimate.

Take the case of Darryl Sherman, for example, who went to great lengths to regain ownership of his house through civil court. Last fall, he received unexpected voicemails and text messages claiming that his long-held family home in Detroit was up for sale – by someone he’d never met. As stated in the Click on Detroit article covering this story, 5 years and $20,000 in legal expenses later, Sherman finally reclaimed his home.

To combat title theft, homeowners should:

  • Utilize Fraud Monitoring Programs: Many counties offer free programs to monitor property-related activities and alert homeowners to suspicious changes.
  • Obtain Title Insurance: Both lenders’ and homeowners’ title insurance provide vital protection against unforeseen claims or liens.
  • Monitor Bills and Mail: Regularly check all received bills and correspondence related to your property to spot any irregularities.
  • Regularly Check Credit Reports: Keep an eye on your credit report for any unauthorized activity, and consider using credit monitoring services.

Title theft poses a significant risk, requiring vigilance and proactive measures from property owners. By staying informed and utilizing available protections, homeowners can reduce the likelihood of falling victim to fraudulent schemes.

Title theft is becoming more prevalent, even within local homes in your neighborhood. If you’ve experienced title theft or want assistance in securing your property, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced attorneys at Galloway and Collens. We’re here to provide the necessary support to safeguard your most valuable asset.

Contact a Michigan Real Estate Lawyer