Mortgage fraud? Here's what to look for.

Yep, it can happen. Here are a few tips about title fraud and identity theft — to help protect yourself and your family when you take out a mortgage, or have a change in home ownership.

Be informed to keep unimagined debt out of your life.

If you plan on buying a home or property in Canada, you can protect yourself and your family from becoming victims of mortgage fraud with a few simple steps.

What is title fraud?

The most common form of title fraud involves someone 'impersonating' your identity and forging documents to change the title on your home or property without your knowledge, or to take out a mortgage on your title, or both.

If this fraud occurs, once the 'funds' are advanced on a mortgage in your name, they disappear, leaving you, the actual owner, holding the mortgage 'bag.' In fact, even if they don't change the title, they could end up handing you a mortgage debt that you didn't agree to, but are considered responsible to pay.

Take a few simple steps to protect against title fraud:

  • Before buying a home, make sure to have a lawyer check the property ownership history for any irregularities or a false mortgage discharge.
  • Also ask your lawyer to look for more than just the title deed, such as survey or plot plans, tax bills and assessment notices for anything that doesn't add up.
  • Make sure to use a highly-qualified real estate lawyer for your home purchase, to ensure that mortgage title discharge procedures are properly followed (to help prevent an opening for a fraudster to take advantage).
  • Lenders may require that you purchase Title Insurance in order to protect against title fraud. It's a relatively inexpensive, one time expense that will cover you for many years (depending on the provider).
  • You can regularly check the title on your home. You'll need identifying details to do a title search, which can usually be done through a provincial registry agent or through your provincial government website.
  • In the event of the death of someone who is part of a co-ownership or multigenerational mortgage, it's important to have their name removed to prevent the advance of fraudulent funds.

Be alert! Here are the possible signs of identity fraud to detect it early:

  • Tax statements or bills are unexpectedly mailed to your home, but addressed to a different person.
  • You receive a phone call from a caller inquiring about a new mortgage that has already been arranged for your property.
  • Bills do not arrive as expected.
  • Creditors contact you regarding purchases you did not make.
  • There are discrepancies in your bank or credit card statements.

It's important to regularly check your bank accounts, credit card statements, utilities bills, and credit rating to ensure that everything is in order.

Have more questions about mortgage fraud? Give us a call or drop by one of our convenient store locations.

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