You’ve heard the commercials. Is your home in danger of being “stolen” by title thieves?
“With the advancement in technology, it’s a huge problem and tremendously unreported as a crime,” says Art Pfizenmayer, Senior Advisor to the CEO of Home Title Lock as reported in the San Diego Union Tribune in 2018. But is it? Is the crime so rampant that it is necessary to pay a company like Title Lock hundreds of dollars a year? We’ve all heard the commercials with the alarming warning that our homes can be stolen with a few keystrokes. Is it true and is the “protection” provide by Title Lock a good idea? I spoke to Scott Stevenson, a 26-year attorney and CEO of Northwest Title. Northwest Title is a cornerstone in the Central Ohio title community and has been around for over 50 years. “Never in my career and never in the history of our company have I heard of it happening,” said Scott.
What does Title Lock claim is occurring and what do they promise to do? According to their website, criminals “go online to find your title and mortgage information. Thieves use this information to transfer you off your home’s title. Once they have the paperwork forged, it’s just a quick trip to the county recorder’s office to file the “updated” paperwork. Also, with the convenience of being online, many offices allow paperwork to be digitally transmitted…no need to leave their keyboard!” Then, says the Title Lock website, these same individuals take out mortgages on the home, essentially locking your home up in liens that you must remove.
Stevenson says if it were as rampant as Title Lock claims, a title company would be ground zero. “We would know, and it’s not” he says. Scott goes on to say that there were rumors of this kind of fraud happening around 2010 in Michigan but unverified and certainly extremely remote. “Slim to none” he says are the chances that your deed could be stolen. “More likely that you will be hit by a tornado on Broad Street.”
Furthermore, says Stevenson, an examination of Title Lock’s website provides no clear evidence of what you are paying them to do, at least nothing that you couldn’t very easily do yourself. Calling it a “ridiculous” service, Stevenson says the steps they take to “protect” your title are very simple to do yourself. You don’t need the “proprietary software” they claim to use.
What does Title Lock promise to do for $149.00 a year? They promise to “monitor” your title and let you know if there is any change to it.
OK. I guess. But couldn’t you do that yourself?
Pull up the Auditor’s website and look at your home’s record. Is your name on it? You’re safe. Pull it up every day if it makes you feel better. (You’re performing much more due diligence that Title Lock, and it’s free.) Pay attention to bills coming to your home. Are you still getting the tax bill? The home is still in your name. Are you getting mail regarding loans being requested on the address? That’s a clue fraud could be occurring. If you have your tax payments on any kind of “auto pay” by your bank — make sure you also sign up for paper or electronic notification that it has been paid. This kind of diligence is especially important if you own two homes: mail to vacation homes might not be checked for months at a time.
This kind of oversight of yours or a loved one’s home affairs is easy, can be done in a minute and will not result in a recurring charge of $149 a year on your credit card.
This Blog is written by Kathy Chiero, Lead Agent for The Kathy Chiero Group. Thinking of Buying? Get a copy of my free book “Ten Ways to Win in a Challenging Market” Visit us a OurOhioHome.com Ready to sell? Contact us for a no-obligation analysis of the value of your home.