A growing number of crooks who steal your identity don't swipe your personal information to pilfer from your financial accounts. They want to get their hands on your home and snatch it right out from under you.
Modern day malefactors are mindful of the fact that while you may have quite a stash to swipe from your savings, credit and investment accounts, chances are your home is your most valuable asset. You can, however, protect your home from a heist by taking measured preventative steps.
Here's the basic house stealing scam:
Sai Huda, CEO of San Diego, CA-based Compliance Coach recently deployed CompliancePal the first-of-its kind software clients use to meet federal requirements to weed out ID theft "red flags" -- indicators that identity filching could be afoot.
Huda said the software has found other variations on the house stealing scheme including a team posing as both the owner selling the property and the buyer making the purchase. The real homeowner is left in the lurch. He developed the software to help federally regulated institutions comply with the so-called "Red Flag" provision of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA). Fully effective in November this year, the provision requires that financial institutions, creditors and others who handle your personal identifying documents develop and deploy an ID theft prevention program.
The federal provision comes with more than two dozen red flags regulated companies must heed.
"If businesses fail to comply it's not only civil monetary penalties, it's also violations of federal and state unfair and deceptive acts laws. It's a serious risk for Realtors, mortgage brokers, lenders and others who don't comply," Huda said.
But Huda's software has found nearly as many additional red flags beyond the federal regulations and he says that indicates consumers also have their work cut out for them. "Consumers need to ask, 'Who am I doing business with? What are they doing to protect me? What am I doing to protect myself?' " he added.
To prevent someone from stealing your home, take conventional ID-theft prevention measures with a focus on protecting your home's ownership.
"Just as you keep tabs on your credit report, keep a watch once or twice a year on your home's title records," says Huda. You don't need to hire a title company for a title search, but it's a smart move to visit your county recorder or other public recording agency to check your title for lien changes or additions, requests for information or other anomalies.