You may have heard advertisements touting home title theft protection. Should you be alarmed about a criminal stealing your home’s title?
First, what is home title theft? It occurs when a fraudster obtains a homeowner’s personal information, and uses forged documents to apply to the registrar of deeds to have ownership of the property transferred to the fraudster’s name. The fraudster then borrows money using the property as collateral, and never makes the payments. The homeowner may not know that this transaction has occurred until the lender tries to foreclose on the property. But before we go any further, let us put your mind at ease.
How often does home title theft occur?
We contacted the Nebraska Attorney General’s office, and they said there is a very low chance of this type of theft happening to you. Companies selling coverage against this type of theft is largely a marketing technique to sell their product.
We also asked the Lancaster County (Lincoln) Accessor’s office about home title theft, and they have not heard of any cases in Nebraska. Their website is very transparent, which helps deter thieves. You can look up any address and see who the owners are, and if you create an account, you can get more detailed information. To further deter fraud, Social Security Numbers are not a part of the County Accessor’s documentation.
In the FTC’s annual consumer fraud and identity theft report, the category “All Real Estate Fraud” (which is much broader than home title theft) represents only 0.85% of the total identity theft incidents reported to the FTC in 2020. And according to The American Land Title Association, the headlines about home title fraud are usually exaggerated. “I suspect that companies that offer title services use that [claim] as a marketing strategy,” says Jeremy Yohe, vice president of communications at the association.
What can you do?
Identity theft and many other types of fraud happen every day. You can guard yourself against fraud by becoming aware of the types of fraud, and the tricks criminals use to commit fraud. Our website, firstnebraska.org, includes links to the FTC and the Consumer Protection Bureau (click on Members/Resources tab) where you can learn about tips to keep you safe.
We offer Identity Theft Solutions
If you have a First Class, Preferred or Premier Checking account with FNCU, it includes identity theft solutions which comes with fully managed identity theft recovery. If you find that you’ve become a victim of any kind of identity theft, or even suspect identity theft, a professional Identity Theft Recovery Advocate will personally assist you. They will work on your behalf to reverse the damage, no matter how long it takes.
In addition, our identity theft solutions includes entitlement to credit monitoring, which could alert you to suspicious activity, because it checks to see if there has been any activity to any the three of the credit report companies. You must enroll in Credit Monitoring to start receiving alerts.