Imagine answering a knock at your front door and finding a man on your doorstep claiming to own your home. Somehow, your home’s title was transferred out of your name without your knowledge. The stranger demands that you pack up and leave his property immediately.
This is the nightmare scenario that came up in a conversation I had recently. This scam, which is known as home title theft, is yet another way that fraudsters try to steal from people.
How worried should you be about home title theft? Is a home title lock necessary to protect your home from title theft? In this article, we’ll address what you should and shouldn’t be concerned about and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
What is home title theft?
Home title theft is the fraudulent transfer of your home’s deed into the name of another person. Once the title is transferred, the fraudster attempts to strip the equity from your home by selling it or taking out a mortgage.
Victims of home title theft may not discover they’re victims until strangers show up at the door to kick them out.
How concerned should you be about home title theft?
Home title theft is frightening to think about, but honestly, it’s not high on my list of concerns. There is another far more concerning way that fraudsters can steal from you. I’ll cover what that is and how to protect yourself in a moment.
Home title theft doesn’t concern me because it’s not easy to do. Think about what’s involved in transferring a real estate deed: you fill out a new deed and sign it in the presence of a notary. The notary requires you to provide official identification to prove who you are, then logs the transaction and signatures in case of future litigation. Finally, the signed and notarized deed is recorded in the county records for a fee of $50 to $100 to make it official.
As you can see, transferring title involves multiple steps – and some of the steps must be completed in person with official identification.
Even if a thief does manage to steal your home’s title, they still have to figure out how to cash in your home’s equity. Their options are to sell your home or borrow against it, but either option requires signatures, identification, and notarization.
Folks, it’s not that easy to steal your home’s title. Even if it does somehow happen, you have every right to challenge the fraudulent deed in court. Once you’ve shown that it’s not your signature on the fraudulent deed, it’s null and void.
Is a home title lock necessary to protect my home from fraudsters?
Is a home title lock necessary to protect from home title theft? Are home title lock services worth the money? In my opinion, the answer is no – to both questions. Let me explain why.
The term “home title lock” is misleading because it implies that you can freeze your home’s title like you can freeze your credit file. There is no way to do this! There is no mechanism by which you can freeze your home’s title and prevent fraudsters from trying to change it. All home title lock services do is monitor your home’s title and inform you of changes after they’ve already happened.
Many home title lock services also portray themselves as a form of insurance – which they’re not. If you’re victimized by home title theft, they don’t help you clean up the mess. You’re on your own!
In my opinion, home title lock services offer a lot of fearmongering, but little real value for the $10-$20 per month they charge.
If you’re concerned about home title theft, you can always monitor your home’s title yourself for free by periodically checking your address on your county’s website.
If home title fraud still concerns you (despite my opinion on it), it might be worth investing in a home title fraud service. I’ll give you a personal recommendation in a moment that offers far more value for what you would spend on one of the so-called “home title lock” services.
Here’s the real threat that should worry you
You wouldn’t even think of posting your social security number or bank account information online for all to see. Unfortunately, somebody else may have already done it. It could be just a matter of time before somebody uses it.
As I’ve covered, you probably shouldn’t lose sleep over home title theft. What should concern you, however, is identity theft. If you haven’t taken proactive steps to protect your identity, you’re potentially a sitting duck for identity thieves. All it takes is a single data breach to expose your personal information to fraudsters.
Unfortunately, data breaches happen all the time.
The most infamous breach in recent years is the 2017 Equifax data breach. Equifax is one of the three major repositories that provide credit reporting information to banks when you apply for credit cards and loans.
Equifax aggregates and stores an enormous amount of highly personal information, including your name, social security number, loan and credit card account numbers, payment histories, address history, work history, date of birth, public records about you, etc.
In short, Equifax is the holy grail for identity thieves.
Unfortunately, Equifax blew it. The 2017 data breach exposed personal information on 148 million Americans to hackers and fraudsters. Folks, that’s nearly half the country! That means there’s around a 1 in 2 chance that at least some of your personal information was compromised.
You’re probably very careful about protecting your personal information. You don’t give it out unless it’s absolutely necessary, right? But here’s the problem: it might already be out there because of the negligence and mistakes of others. This is why it’s so important to get identity theft protection.
Credit monitoring is not enough
Credit monitoring is good, but it’s not enough. Yes, credit monitoring alerts you to potential identity theft, but it doesn’t help you clean up the mess if you become a victim.
Cleaning up from identity theft is a nightmare. Trust me on this – I’ve talked with people who have had to do it. Cleaning up the mess is expensive, tedious, time-consuming, and can take years.
Meanwhile, it will be difficult (or impossible) to get a mortgage, credit card, loan, job, professional certification, security clearance, or even just rent an apartment.
Credit monitoring is good, but credit monitoring plus credit restoration is far better. That’s what I’ve been using to protect myself and my family for over a decade now.
I personally recommend credit monitoring plus credit restoration
Even if you do everything right to protect your personal information, you can still become an identity theft victim because of somebody else’s mistake or negligence. It’s not enough to simply be careful about who you give your personal information to. Millions of people who did everything right were still compromised in the Equifax data breach.
That’s why it’s essential to have credit monitoring and credit restoration. Remember, credit monitoring doesn’t clean up after identity theft. Credit restoration does. Credit restoration handles the tedious, time-consuming, and often expensive process of restoring your good credit so you don’t have to.
My personal recommendation is Zander Identity Theft Protection. I’ve been using Zander for over ten years to protect my family and I highly recommend them. In fact, I recently upgraded my plan to get even better identity theft protection.
Zander’s prices are reasonable, the service and features are excellent, and Dave Ramsay endorses them. Zander even throws home title fraud restoration into the deal as well. Pretty cool, eh?
Here’s what Zander offers:
- Credit monitoring for social security number, personal information on the dark web, and change of address. The Elite Bundle also offers account takeover monitoring and new account monitoring. Zander will also monitor your children’s social security numbers if you go with the family plan.
- Restoration services for all types of identity theft. Zander helps restore your credit in cases of financial, tax, social security fraud, medical ID theft, benefits and employment fraud, criminal activity, home title fraud, and child identity theft (on the family plan).
- Home title fraud restoration – Is a home title lock necessary? Not if you pay for it separately! Zander just happens to include it in the deal along with all the other great stuff they offer.
- Unlimited recovery services – Zander takes over the work of restoring your good name with no monetary or time limit.
- Up to $2,000,000 for stolen funds and expenses on the family plan and $1,000,000 on the individual plan.
- Data breach updates
- Lost wallet service
- Ultra VPN for up to 20 devices (Elite Bundle)
- Experian credit lock (Elite Bundle)
- 24/7/365 US-based customer and recovery services
By the way, if you click the link below and purchase their service, we’re paid a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for helping to support all the great free information we provide on this site!
Get protected ASAP
Data breaches happen all the time! It’s only a matter of time before your personal information is exposed – if it hasn’t been already. I highly recommend protecting your identity with Zander today.