Jim Valentine: Protecting your title from fraud

Jim Valentine on Real Estate

Jim Valentine on Real Estate

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We’ve all seen the scary ads saying title crime is on the rise that go on to say the FBI supports their warning statements.
When they are over, you are left with the feeling that thieves will come in the night and take your house away by stealing your title. For only $15 a month you can rest peacefully knowing they will protect you.
I’ve wondered what that is all about as it seems incredulous that you could lose your home to fraud like that and that you can solve it for a monthly charge of $15. It was time to look in to it and so I did.
This was not a detailed investigation, rather a look at the situation, the ads, what is happening and what you get for your money. After selling real estate in Northern Nevada for more than 40 years, it just didn’t sound right that someone could go record something at the county recorder’s office and take your property from you, or change the tile to their name and get a loan against it and disappear. We know what lenders require to get a loan, and it just didn’t add up.
I started with the service. What do they do? Turns out they are not a title insurance policy, nor do they secure, or lock, your title from any activity. They simply monitor your title periodically and will advise you if somebody records something against your title such as a fraudulent deed transferring it, or a fraudulent Deed of Trust securing a loan on your property. They will tell you what happened after it happened so you can then hire an attorney to fight it.
The most renowned of such companies has three offerings ranging from $14.99 a month for which you get 24/7 monitoring and $25,000 in legal fees support, $149 a year for which you get the monitoring, $50,000 in legal fees, custom analysis of your title and lock in savings. The third is $596 for four years and offers all of the $149/year program but you get $250,000 in legal fees.
If you check it out, note that when you go to back out of the program a box pops up saying, “Scammers won’t think twice! Why should you? Don’t become a victim!” Yet one more scary declaration of which there are many on their site.
Your title insurance policy won’t protect you against things that happen after you bought your property although we understand that there are some ALTA policies that will protect you. Check the fine print of your policy to make sure of your coverage, if any. This is a very unusual type of crime that may be increasing, but is very hard to transact. Even the company website says, “In the unlikely event your title or mortgage is compromised…” The numbers are few but the scare factor gives everyone cause for concern.
The main targets are free and clear properties, older people, multiple property owners, high equity, etc. The pricing is enticingly low such that you can buy the policy to gain some peace of mind, but it seems as if you will only get a quicker warning than the notice you will get when somebody knocks on your door and tells you that you have to move. You will have to take the same action in either case. In reality, it doesn’t seem that you get much for your money.
Understand that the recorder’s office isn’t responsible for policing the records. You can go online for free and monitor their record data base and see if anything has been recorded against your property similar to how you may go on your bank account to check charges and balances to protect against fraud. What we learned is that these scams are never successful when the owner is paying attention.
We will continue to monitor this subject so see if it is finding its way to our Northern Nevada communities at all.
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine, CDPE, SFR, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-5472. carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com, www.carsonvalleyland.com.


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