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Article 3 (Sep 2020): Deed theft is real

September 30, 2020
You've probably heard the ads, and they may seem bizarre. People steal a deed to a house and suddenly the owner isn't the owner.  House stealing is actually a thing and has been since at least 2008, according to the FBI.  It tends to pop up in major cities and targets properties that are empty or used infrequently, like vacation homes.
Here is how it works:
Bad guys pick out a house -- usually a rental, vacation home, or vacant home.  Then they research the owner.  After obtaining fake IDs and forged signatures, they file a transfer of ownership with the county's registrar of deeds. They quickly sell the home, or borrow against it, taking out all the equity.  Then poof, they are gone.
Many counties these days are offering free community notifications.  When you register, you'll receive an email or text when a document is recorded for your property.
You can also sign up for a title lock service that will monitor your home's deed to prevent fraud. The cost is about $150 per year.

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