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Kelly Bullis: Home title fraud, oh my!

Kelly Bullis

Kelly Bullis

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I really had to fight the temptation to jump on the “Star Wars” bandwagon that has arisen on this date every year. (“May the 4th be with you.”) Actually, today you may wish you had the force with you as I delve into a dark underground criminal activity that is gaining steam and getting worse: Home title fraud.

Basically, this horrible situation occurs when a low-down, dirty, rotten thief first steals enough information to pretend to be you. Also flat-out known as identity theft. Normally, identity thieves open new credit cards in your name, or purchase large assets in your name, or get medical procedures done on your medical insurance, or get arrested and claiming to be you, or gain access to your bank account or stockbroker account. All of these are bad, make you sick to your stomach and really ruin your day. But none of those things usually come close to losing your home.

The home title thieves, being plain scum of the earth people, go down to the local title official in your community, usually the county clerk, provide enough documentation that they are you, and then change important information on your title, like changing your mailing address for starters. They then go out and borrow against your home, or even sell it.

Since the mailing address is no longer yours, you don’t know this has happened until an unhappy mortgage holder is foreclosing on your home for defaulting on the faulty loan that was taken out, or even worse, a new owner is knocking on your door asking you to leave since they now own your house. At this point, you need a team of professionals to help restore your home ownership and clear title. Expensive, and time-consuming. You might even have to live somewhere else for a while until this all gets sorted out.

Most folks purchased title insurance while they were in escrow purchasing their home. So, you already have one defense in place.

I suggest you consider adding another tier if you haven’t already done so, get an identity theft monitoring service in place. (LifeLock or Identity Theft Shield) They will alert you whenever anything unusual happens, such as taking out a new mortgage, etc.

There is another third option if you are still not sleeping well worrying about becoming a victim of this new crime. It’s called Home Title Lock (there are other similar services out there, but I like this one). It provides 24/7 monitoring of your home title and mortgage, looking for any sign of unauthorized activity. It informs you of any change to your title. And it includes a team of restoration experts (attorneys and other industry professionals) who will work to reinstate your title’s integrity should you become a victim of what the FBI calls “house stealing.” Visit their website at AMAC.US/HTL

Have you heard? Psalm 16:9 says, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices. My body shall also dwell in safety.”

Kelly Bullis is a Certified Public Accountant in Carson City. Contact him at 775-882-4459. On the web at Also on Facebook.


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