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Protect your properties from title theft.


Title theft has become prevalent in the United States. Title theft happens when someone uses a property owner’s personal information to forge a deed and steal their home. The thief can then apply for a home equity loan or line of credit in the homeowner’s name and then fail to make payments — exposing the owner to foreclosure and credit damage. 

In the case of unoccupied homes, the fraudster might sell the house without the owner’s knowledge or rent out the property. The owner may lose their property through foreclosure or unauthorized sale. Seniors are vulnerable to these kinds of frauds.  

To protect your house, be careful with your personal information, keep an eye on your property if it is unoccupied, keep track of your mail to see if all tax bills and notices from the authorities are received on time, monitor your credit report to look for suspicious activities, keep important documents like the deed and mortgage records in a safe place and get title insurance if you do not have it. Do not hand over these documents to anyone. 

If you think you are a victim of title fraud, report it immediately to the police, contact your registrar of deeds, inform the credit bureaus, contact your mortgage company and any other institutions the thief may have contacted to open fraudulent accounts. Keep all records related to the theft. Make sure that you change your login data for all your financial accounts and inform the Federal Trade Commission. 

A number of jurisdictions offer free services that allow residents to register their names with local officials who record deeds. If any documents are filed including those names, they will alert the resident in question. In New York State, the Home Equity Theft Prevention Act gives some protection to the property owners. In New York City, the Office of the City Register will automatically mail you a notification when a new document is recorded against your property if you sign up for the Notice of Recorded Document Program. 

You can also designate someone you trust, such as a family member or legal representative, to receive notifications. You can register online or by mail for this program. Report fraud to the Sheriff's Office online or by calling (718)707-2100 or taxcop@finance.nyc.gov. For more information visit, www.nyc.gov/deedfraud

Mathew Joseph is a real estate tax consultant. He can be reached at 929 393 5773 or realtorplus1@yahoo.com. 


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