We’ve been getting questions about real estate fraud and “insurance” companies that promise to protect you and your property from fraudulent mortgages. According to the FBI, property and mortgage fraud is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the United States. Property fraud has the potential to be devastating, especially when a portion of the required information to commit the crime is a matter of public record.
In exchange for monthly payments (sometimes more than $15 per month), these companies will periodically check the real property records for any filings that use your name or transfer your property. They’re quick to warn you about the dangers of real estate fraud, often involving a criminal that manages to take out a mortgage using the innocent homeowner’s name, resulting in massive debt or foreclosure.
It’s important to note that nothing can outright prevent a fraudulent filing. Anybody with a pen and paper can fill out a blank deed and forge your name because Texas law prevents “locking” property title. It’s also important to know that these companies are not selling insurance (even though that’s exactly what they want you to think). What these companies are actually selling is a monitoring service and nothing more. Title insurance, on the other hand, is purchased from an actual insurance company that protects you from claims against your title that occur before you bought your house.
Fortunately, our clients can rest easy knowing that North Texas counties have taken a proactive approach to property and mortgage fraud. Denton (Property Alert (publicsearch.us)), Tarrant (Property Fraud Alert (tarrantcounty.com)), Dallas (County Clerk | Property Fraud Alert (dallascounty.org)), and Collin (Features (collincountytx.gov)) Counties provide free automatic alert systems that notify you if someone files a document on your property or uses your name. You can access the alert systems by visiting each County Clerk’s website and navigating to the real property records page. Then, it’s just a matter of entering your name, address, and/or your email address and the Clerk will automatically notify you when a document is filed.
Property fraud alerts act as an early warning system that allows you to take action before the criminal can do more damage. Schedule an appointment with us today to discuss other ways to protect you and your property from liability.