A home title is a legal document that establishes who owns a certain property. Containing crucial information such as the owner’s name, the property’s location, and any liens or mortgages on the property, a home title serves as proof of property ownership.
When a property is sold or transferred, it’s the home title that gets updated to reflect the new ownership.
Who Holds Your Home Title?
In most cases, the person or entity that holds your home title is you, the homeowner. However, if there’s a mortgage on your property, then the lienholder (usually the bank or lender) also has an interest in the title.
Alternatively, the title might be held by a title company or an attorney during the closing process of a home purchase or sale.
Where Can I View My Home Title?
You can view your home title at your local county recorder’s office, also known as the county clerk’s office or land registry office. These offices maintain public records of all land within the county, including all home titles. You can request to see your home title in person during their operating hours. There might be a small fee associated with this service.
Alternatively, many counties have modernized their systems and offer online access to these records. Check your local county recorder’s website to see if this option is available. If it is, you should be able to search for and view your home title online, though a nominal fee may apply for this convenience as well.
Furthermore, if you recently bought your home and worked with a title company during the closing process, they may have provided you with a copy of the home title. Check your closing documents or contact the title company directly if you’re unsure. Remember, it’s important to keep a clean, safe copy of your home title to aid in protecting against home title theft.
Understanding Home Title Theft
Home title theft is a type of identity theft where criminals steal your identity and use it to change the ownership of your home title from your name to theirs. The thief then takes out loans on your property, leaving you with the debt.
Although it’s not as common as other forms of identity theft, home title theft can be devastating for homeowners.
How Home Title Theft Happens
Stealing a home title involves a series of illegal activities, often starting with identity theft. The perpetrators first gather personal information about the homeowner, like social security numbers, birth dates, or other identifying details. This information may be obtained through a variety of means, such as phishing emails, mail theft, or data breaches.
[ see topic: Protecting Yourself from Online and Offline Fraud ]
Once the criminals have this information, they create fake identification documents, which they use to pose as the homeowner. Then, they head to the county recorder’s office or use online platforms where they forge the homeowner’s signature and file fraudulent deeds that present them as the new owner of the property.
In some instances, these thieves might create a false company, sell the property to themselves, and then take out loans or mortgages against the property. The money from these loans goes straight into their pockets, leaving the actual homeowner with the debt.
In severe cases, the real owners might not become aware of the theft until the foreclosure notices start coming in, making home title theft a serious and potentially devastating issue.
Protecting Your Home Title from Thieves
Protecting your home title involves a mixture of vigilance and proactive steps. Here are some measures you can take:
1. Regularly Check Your Property Records
You can check your property records online through your county’s registrar of deeds or assessor’s office. Regular checks will allow you to spot any unauthorized changes.
To check your property records, first visit the website for your county’s Registrar of Deeds or Assessor’s Office—if available—otherwise, you may need to visit the office in person. Typically, you can look up your property by using your name, address, or the parcel number associated with your property.
The details on the record should include the name of the property owner and any liens or loans against the property. Compare this information with your personal records.
If you notice any discrepancies or unauthorized changes, contact the office immediately and consider seeking legal advice. Keep in mind that checking your property records should become a regular habit to effectively guard against home title theft.
2. Secure Personal Information
As home title theft often starts with identity theft, securing your personal information is crucial. Protect physical documents inside your home and be cautious about who has access to your personal information.
Online, ensure to keep secure passwords, use two-factor authentication when available, and don’t share sensitive information through unsecured networks.
[ see topic: Protecting Yourself from Online and Offline Fraud ]
3. Consider Title Insurance
If you did not choose to obtain an owner’s title insurance policy during the closing process, consider purchasing coverage now.e now.
Title insurance protects homeowners against any errors or fraud in the title history of their property, including home title theft. It is usually a one-time purchase that offers protection as long as you or your heirs own the property.
Title insurance can be purchased from any company that offers such services. Some homeowners choose to buy it from their mortgage lender or real estate agent, but it’s also possible to purchase it independently.
Various websites provide title insurance, and a quick online search can yield numerous options. However, it’s important to ensure that the company you choose is reputable and has a history of good customer service.
Some factors to consider when choosing a provider include the cost, the coverage offered, customer reviews, and the company’s response time to claims. Remember, title insurance is a long-term investment in protecting your home title, so it’s worth taking the time to make an informed decision.
Be sure to read all the terms and conditions before making a purchase to ensure you understand what is covered by the policy.
4. Use a Home Title Monitoring Service
Utilizing a title monitoring service can be vital in defending against home title theft. These services work tirelessly to monitor the public records associated with your home. If any unusual or suspicious activities are detected, such as attempts to transfer the ownership or place a lien on your property, you will be promptly alerted.
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This early detection allows you to respond rapidly and take necessary actions to prevent potential fraud. Moreover, many of these services offer assistance in resolving any issues related to your home title theft, thereby providing an additional layer of security.
While this may involve a fee, many homeowners find that the protection and peace of mind it offers far outweigh the cost. However, it’s important to do your research before choosing a service, ensuring it is reputable, reliable, and suits your specific needs. Many of these services are ripe with fraund
In conclusion, while home title theft is a serious threat, there are steps you can take to guard against it. By staying vigilant and proactive, you can protect your home title and provide a robust defence against potential thieves.
Remember, the best defense against home title theft is a good offense.
Image Credit: how to protect your home title from theft by envato.com
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