The American Land Title Association (ALTA), a national trade association representing the land title industry, has recently issued an alert about a growing trend of deed fraud targeting vacant properties and property investors. Deed fraud, also known as property title fraud, is the act of stealing a property owner’s identity and transferring ownership of the property to another party without the owner’s knowledge or consent. This type of fraud can be particularly common with vacant properties, as they are often unoccupied and can be more easily targeted.
According to the ALTA, perpetrators of deed fraud often target properties that are in the process of foreclosure or that have been abandoned. They then file fraudulent documents with the county recorder’s office, transferring ownership of the property to themselves or a third party. In some cases, they may even go as far as taking out loans against the property, leaving the legitimate owner with significant financial losses.
The ALTA’s alert warns property investors to take extra precautions when dealing with vacant properties. This includes conducting thorough due diligence on the property and its ownership status, as well as monitoring property records to ensure that there have been no unauthorized changes to the ownership status.
Additionally, the ALTA recommends that property investors consider purchasing title insurance. Title insurance can help protect against losses due to title defects, including those caused by deed fraud. The association notes that title insurance can be particularly important for investors of vacant properties, as these properties may be more vulnerable to fraud.
To further protect against deed fraud, the ALTA recommends that property investors work with reputable title companies and attorneys who are knowledgeable about the risks associated with vacant properties. They also advise that investors conduct regular property inspections to ensure that the property is secure and has not been occupied without their knowledge.
Deed fraud targeting vacant properties and property investors is a growing problem in the United States. The ALTA’s alert serves as an important reminder to investors to take steps to protect themselves from this type of fraud. By conducting thorough due diligence, monitoring property records, and considering title insurance, property investors can help safeguard their investments and prevent fraudulent transfers of ownership. At Property Rush, it is our goal to provide you with a thorough and safe buying experience. We use Title Companies and Attorneys to conduct due diligence of historic property ownership along with title insurance to protect your assets.
American Land Title Association. (2022, February 1). ALTA Warns About Deed Fraud Targeting Vacant Properties. Retrieved from https://www.alta.org/news/news.cfm?20220201-ALTA-Warns-About-Deed-Fraud-Targeting-Vacant-Properties
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2021, September 7). Property Title Fraud. Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/property-title-fraud