Broker Check

When Your House May Not Be Your Home

March 11, 2021

Home title fraud occurs when someone fraudulently transfers title to your property from you to them. The consequences can be disastrous as the fraudster may then be able to borrow against the property or even sell it out from under you. What’s even scarier is that you might not know this is occurring until it is too late[i].According to Kiplinger, in 2008 the FBI identified this as a growing problem[ii].

How can you detect that this might be occurring? Here are some steps you can take for free:

  • Protect your personal information by shredding documents with personal or financial data on them and by understanding and implementing personal cybersecurity rules. You can check out some personal cybersecurity presentations in our website library at
  • Freeze your credit reports to lock your credit file to make it more difficult for a fraudster to access credit by masquerading as you. You should also check your credit reports regularly to determine who has been making inquiries about your credit.
  • Check your county records periodically to confirm that you are still listed as the owner. Many counties may have free programs to allow you to do this as well as to alert you to the recording of new documents impacting your property. One example is the HOWL (Home Owner Watch List) program in Suffolk County, New York which can be found at
  • Be alert to simple irregularities such as you stopped receiving utility bills or real estate tax bills or rent from tenants. Certainly, being notified of a mortgage default or impending foreclosure may indicate trouble is afoot.2

What can you do if this happens to you?

  • Notify your county clerk or recording office of the issue, and together with a certified copy of fraudulent documents, notify law enforcement of the crime. In addition, you could consult an attorney to help you work on correcting the problem[iii].



[i] 12/24/2020




[iii] ibid