R.O.S.E., Resources/Outreach to Safeguard the Elderly
Deed fraud, also known as title fraud or property fraud, is a scheme that has been on the rise in recent years, posing a significant risk to property owners across Arizona and throughout the country. This form of fraud occurs when scammers illegally transfer ownership of a property without the owner’s knowledge or consent. The consequences can be devastating, resulting in financial loss, legal battles, and emotional distress. However, there are proactive steps you can take to protect yourself against this growing threat.
The Scope of Deed Fraud
Deed fraud has become increasingly prevalent, affecting unsuspecting property owners across the globe. According to the FBI, deed fraud has shown a 64% increase between 2020 and 2021, with losses totaling over $350 million that year alone. These alarming statistics highlight the urgent need for homeowners to be vigilant and proactive in safeguarding their properties.
Protecting Yourself Against Deed Fraud
Monitor your property: Regularly review your property records and stay alert for any suspicious activity or unauthorized changes. Many local government websites provide online access to property records, enabling you to monitor any alterations or transfers.
Set up alerts: An alert can make you aware that someone is trying to transfer your property. For example, Maricopa County and Pinal County recently introduced a service that will send you an alert when a document is filed in your name/business name. Yavapai County has Eagle Fraud Guard available.
* Maricopa: recorder.maricopa.gov/MaricopaTitleAlert/Default
* Pinal: acclaim.pinalcountyaz.gov/PublicRecordsNotificationWeb
* Yavapai: yavapaiaz.gov/recorder
Secure your personal information: Guard your personal and financial information diligently. Avoid sharing sensitive details online or over the phone unless you have verified the legitimacy of the request. Be cautious when responding to unsolicited requests for personal information.
Seek professional assistance: Engage the services of a reputable title company or real estate attorney to conduct periodic property title searches. These professionals can help identify any irregularities or fraudulent activities associated with your property.
Get title insurance: Purchase title insurance to protect yourself against financial losses resulting from deed fraud. Title insurance policies provide coverage for legal expenses and potential damages caused by fraudulent property transfers.
Educate yourself: Stay informed about the latest scams and fraudulent tactics used by criminals. Keep an eye on local news, government agencies, and law enforcement websites for alerts and updates on deed fraud cases in your area.
Deed fraud poses a significant threat to homeowners, but by implementing proactive measures, you can minimize the risk and protect your property rights. Regular monitoring of property records, securing personal information, utilizing alerts, seeking professional assistance, obtaining title insurance, and staying informed are vital steps in safeguarding yourself against this growing trend.
Remember, prevention is key. By taking the necessary precautions and staying vigilant, you can mitigate the chances of falling victim to deed fraud and ensure the security of your most valuable asset: your home.
R.O.S.E. seeks to create change by educating and providing awareness of financial scams that typically target the older/elderly population, with a focus on those age 60 and over. For more information and resources, visit www.roseadvocacy.org, sign up for our monthly newsletter, follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn, or call us at 602-445-7673.