Tips to Protect Against Real Estate Title Fraud
Friday May 24th, 2019
There are various types of real estate fraud to be aware of in Canada, but one issue that is particularly concerning for senior homeowners is title fraud. Title fraud happens when someone illegally assumes the identity of an individual homeowner and then uses that false identity to pose as the homeowner. From there, the impostor can assume title on the home, sell the property or even obtain a mortgage in the homeowner’s name.
Scenarios like these are truly troublesome and shine a light on the importance of guarding oneself against title fraud. Here are some ways that you can protect your personal information or the information of a loved one from identity thieves:
1. Never provide personal information on the phone, through mail or on the internet unless you have initiated the contact or know the person you are dealing with.
2. Before divulging any personal details, find out how they will be used and if they will be shared.
3. Pay attention to your billing cycles and follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time – or at all.
4. Check your credit report regularly with Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada to ensure there are no discrepancies and that someone hasn’t opened unauthorized financial accounts in your name.
5. Mail is an easy avenue for identity thieves. Be sure to always deposit outgoing mail in a post office collection box or at the post office and check your mailbox regularly. If you move, have your mail forwarded and promptly update your address with your important contacts.
6. Minimize how much identification you carry on you and store personal information in a safe place.
7. Only provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN) when absolutely necessary and keep your card in a secure place – don’t carry this ID with you.
8. Identity thieves pick through garbage and recycling bins; therefore, it is recommended to shred receipts, copies of credit applications, credit offers, financial statements and other information that could be stolen and used for fraud.
9. Conduct a property search at your province land registry office to ensure that the title to your home is still in your name.
Real estate fraud can cause homeowners to experience large financial losses. However, being watchful and aware is one of the best ways to protect yourself or a loved one from identity theft and other types of fraud. Seniors can also benefit from various products and services for added security, including automated credit watches, identity theft protection and real estate title insurance.
To learn more, please contact me, Deborah Clerk, Real Estate Sales Representative, ASA with Keller Williams Realty Solutions, Brokerage in Mississauga, Ontario. As an Accredited Senior Agent, I can offer additional tips and advice to senior homeowners to help protect their largest investments and their futures.