Here’s how to protect yourself from scammers stealing your home title

Home title fraud occurs when a person transfers your title or title into their name without your knowledge.

INDIANAPOLIS —

Scammers can literally scam you out of the house and at home. Although rare, home title fraud does happen, and there are many free ways homeowners in Indiana can look out for it.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is home title cheating?

Home title fraud occurs when a person transfers your deed or title into their name without your knowledge. That means they scoop your belongings right under you with fake documents.

The Better Business Bureau said scammers sometimes choose a second home, a rental, or a vacant home.

Once the scammer becomes the owner, they can use your equity to get loans or sell the house.

Does it happen often?

Identity theft expert Carrie Kerskie, president of the Kerskie Group, said in her experience, title theft is not common.

“In the 15 years that I’ve worked with victims of identity theft and fraud, I’ve only seen a handful of these cases,” Kerskie said.

While Kerksie said the chances of a home title steal are slim, it’s a real thing that can happen.

This is why paid services offer monitoring of your real estate records for a monthly or yearly fee.

Should I pay for these monitoring services?

While fraud monitoring companies can be legitimate, some offer a service that is available to the public for free.

“When these companies or services first come out, they often use a service that the general population isn’t typically aware of,” Kerskie said.

This service registers for county fraud or property alerts.

Marion, Hendricks, and Hamilton counties are some of the counties that offer homeowners home surveillance alerts.

To search for your state, click here.

“You can register your name and receive an email notification if the official land registers or official documents change. The sooner you find out, the sooner you deny it and the faster you go about recovering,” Kerskie said.

If you own a second home in another state, contact the county clerk’s office for their alert system.

To uncover fraud attempts, regularly pull your free annualcreditreport.com credit report from each bureau to look for stubborn inquiries. Currently reports are available weekly for free due to COVID. The site is authorized by federal law.

Unless you plan to apply for a loan or credit card, you should suspend your accounts. Freezing your credit will prevent new lines of credit from being opened.

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