February 4, 2013
Hello everyone. Is it just me or has this been one of the coldest winters we’ve experienced in years? Today’s post is about a subject that seems to dance in and out of our collective awareness–but perhaps deserves a little more attention than we give it.
Many of you might recall reading about sad accounts of innocent home-owners losing their homes to fraudsters but were still held responsible for paying their mortgages.
As the headlines faded, so too did the vividness of our recollection that these were local events happening to our neighbours, families and friends–and yes, by and large still do.
Being a victim of Real estate fraud is not fun. While fraud on any level is usually an unwelcoming experience, when your home is involved the emotional stakes are higher and the monetary repercussions are often even more dire. Simply put, this type of fraud often translates into the single largest financial loss that most families or individuals will experience.
Victims of real estate fraud usually find out a little too late that (1.) They no longer own their homes; (2.) There have been additional mortgages taken out in their name; (3.) Their credit history has been affected–often negatively so.
The two most common types of real estate fraud are Title Fraud and Foreclosure Fraud.
Title fraud occurs when the title to your home is stolen; the fraudster sells the property or applies for a new mortgage against it. By and large, title fraud usually begins with identity theft (a subject we will explore in more detail in a future post).
Foreclosure fraud occurs when a home-owner is having difficulties meeting their mortgage payments. Victims are tricked into transferring their property title in return for a loan that will “assist” in meeting their financial obligations. The fraudsters usually keep the payments made and, because they now have legal title to your home, it can then be resold or re-mortgaged.
- Contact your mortgage lender first if you are having difficulty making your mortgage payments.
- Consult a lawyer before authorizing any individual or organization the right to deal with your home or other assets.
- Thoroughly research the company or individual offering you the loan.
- From time to time, do a land-title search on your own property at your provincial land registry office. This search will show the name of the property owner and any mortgages or liens registered on the title.
- Always, always, always obtain title insurance to protect against title fraud!
- File a report with your local police.
- Notify your mortgage lender/and or Mortgage Broker.
- Advise Canada’s two credit rating agencies, TransUnion and Equifax.
- Call or visit your provincial land registry office.
- Begin a written log: write down when you noticed the fraud and the actions you took, including names of people you spoke to and dates of communications.
- Contact your financial institutions and any other companies (e.g. phone company, cable provider, etc.) where your accounts were tampered with, or are at risk of being tampered with.
- Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre HERE
In my next post, I’ll delve a little deeper into both Title Fraud & Foreclosure Fraud. Please stay tuned, or subscribe to my blog for automatic updates!
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