Smart real estate advice for tough economic times: dealing with property deed fraud
By Vicki Johnson
These days, most of us could probably benefit from a bit of expert
- From market conditions to potential pitfalls, it is important for homeowners to be in the know. In an attempt to better educate local homeowners, the
recently issued a Consumer Alert urging people to take preventative action against forged or fraudulent property deeds. Armed with expert knowledge and smart real estate advice, anyone can succeed in safeguarding his or her home against fraud – and ensuring safe investments for the future.
What is deed fraud?
Deed fraud involves the recording of fraudulent and/or forged deeds against individuals’ real property; and unfortunately, instances of such scams are on the rise. The good news is that there are a number of warning signs that can help consumers pinpoint potentially dishonest activity early on. According to the California Department of Real Estate, these “red flags” include the following:
- A sudden cessation of property tax bills or notices
- A Notice of Default or Notice of Trustee’s Sale when you already own your home outright
- A loan or transaction document pertaining to activity of which you have no knowledge
- Information regarding a transfer or sale of full or partial ownership of your property enacted without your knowledge
- Information regarding a document recorded on your property where the signer was deceased at the time of execution
- Changes to a recorded document that occurred after you signed it
Putting an end to property deed fraud: look out for red flags and know when to take action
Real estate experts agree that the best way to stop property deed scams is for consumers to take immediate action when they encounter any of the suspicious activity listed above. If you or someone you know suspects deed fraud, begin by taking the following steps to secure your property:
- Get in touch with the County Recorder’s Office to notify them of the fraud
- Contact local law enforcement and report any suspicious activity.
- If you suspect a forged signature, file a complaint with the California Secretary of State, Notary Public Section.
- Talk to your insurance company to see if your policy covers forged deeds.
- If you believe that a real estate broker or salesperson, licensed or not, is involved in deed fraud, file a complaint with the Department of Real Estate.
- Finally, set up a consultation with a trusted California attorney. Falsified deeds can sometimes be annulled or declared void.
By educating themselves about deed fraud prevention and preparedness, consumers can take an active role in their own safety and security. To learn more about
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