Title fraud is quickly becoming one of the most common — and dangerous — types of cybercrimes out there. By stealing your identity, thieves can lay claim to your home’s title and sell it, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses and months of legal wrangling required to set it right. While the possibility of this occurring to you is frightening, there are steps you can take towards title fraud prevention.
Protect the Vulnerable
Sadly, cyber criminals like to prey on the elderly. This is ideal for them when it comes to title fraud, because older people usually have their houses paid off and they may not even notice when the fraud is occurring until it’s too late. Unscrupulous caregivers have been known to pressure people suffering from Alzheimer’s to give them the power of attorney, enabling them to take control of their property. If you have a loved one who might be in this type of vulnerable position, you’ll want to make sure they’re protected.
Prevention Is Key
Once the fraud has taken place your options are limited, so your best bet is to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place. Be careful not share confidential information on line, and shred sensitive documents before throwing them away. Banks and credit bureaus offer identity protection programs which can be particularly helpful in protecting the elderly.
If someone has stolen your personal information, you’ll need to act quickly. Check your bank account frequently to make sure there aren’t any mysterious withdrawals. If your credit card gets declined without cause, call right away. It could be just a precaution, but it could also mean someone else has been using it without your approval. Go through your records to make sure that you’ve been receiving all your monthly bills. If some are missing — or you start receiving calls from debt collectors regarding debts you shouldn’t have — then there’s definitely a problem.
Lock Your Title
There are companies that offer services that will protect and “lock” your title. They can help you keep your title from getting into the wrong hands by monitoring any newly filed documents pertaining to your property, and understanding if there’s a threat or not.
The important thing is to be aware of the threat of title fraud. By taking a few simple steps — and catching fraud at the first sign it’s occurring — you can protect your home and family.