What is Mortgage Identity Theft?
Mortgage Identity Theft combines identity theft & mortgage fraud and becomes a new kind of fraud, also known as house stealing. It is the most dangerous form of identity theft as it amounts to the most money lost and is also the most devastating to the individuals.
Mortgage Identity Theft begins when a thief uses your identity to either get a new house for himself or to acquire your own house. Other variations of this theft include acquiring a loan using your house as collateral. This identity theft may have several other forms also.
How Mortgage Identity Theft Happen?
The process of Mortgage Identity Theft consists of the following steps:
- Firstly, crooks begin their search for a house which they want to steal.
- After this, they try to get the homeowner’s identity by stealing their information. They acquire the names and personal information of owner such as their SSN, driver’s license information, passport, etc. and make fake IDs from them.
- Then, the criminals buy forms to transfer property. They forge the homeowner’s signature on those forms and file them with the appropriate government office which is usually the county recorder of deeds office.
- Once they file the documents, the property belongs to the criminals.
What Thieves Do To Acquire Information?
There are various techniques by which thieves acquire your information:
- Thieves can reroute your phone calls, forge your signature, make fake IDs through identity document forgery and obtain your latest mortgage history.
- Some thieves take a higher-tech approach. For example, when you purchase a house, many details about the transaction such as when you bought the house, sale price, mortgage company name, etc. are posted as part of the public record by your city or county.
- You can also unknowingly provide your information to the thieves. They may call posing as someone from your mortgage company and ask your personal or financial information for the particular mortgage.
Who Are The Targets?
Anyone can fall victim of Mortgage Identity Theft, but you can be the prime target if you have a good credit score and owe little or nothing on your mortgage. Any type of home can be used for this crime; from a vacation home to your current home.
When Victims Find Out About This Crime?
If someone is going to steal a person’s identity, they’ll want to do it so that the victim won’t know what’s happened until the damage has been done completely.
Victims generally have no clue that the equity of their home has been taken, or they owe thousands of dollars on a home they don’t own, until it is too late.
Reporting And Recovery
Reconstructing your credit and rectifying your situation does take time, but it is not an impossible task.
- Firstly, notify the fraud department of the mortgage company.
- Then, file a police report.
- Report the mortgage identity theft to credit reporting agencies also.
- As it is a federal crime, you should also report your case to the FBI.
- Learn the various tips for reporting identity theft.
- Never give your bank account information to anyone until you have verified and confirmed the source.
- Carry the least possible credit cards with you and keep the account and contact information in a safe place, so you can contact the companies if the cards are lost or stolen.
- Check monthly statements and contact creditors immediately if you suspect fraud.
- Opt out from pre-approved credit card applications and other such offers.
- Shred all documents before disposing of.
- Never share your SSN with any entity unless required to do so by law.
- From time to time, check all information pertaining to your house through your county’s deeds office. If you find any paperwork you don’t recognize or any signature which is not yours, then take a look into it.
- Regularly check your Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC).
- Contact government agencies and ask them to hide your personal information on online portals of mortgage websites, if applicable.
- If you receive any documents from a mortgage company which is not yours, whether your name is on it or not, don’t just throw it away. Open it and figure out what it says. Then, follow up with the company that sent it.
- If you are struggling with mortgage payments, then thoroughly research if any firm promises you to help you get out of debt, reduce your monthly payments, or offer any other unbelievable service before entering into any agreement with that firm.
- The number one way to lower exposure to mortgage identity theft is to freeze your credit. Do not implement this if you are purchasing, refinancing or getting help with your mortgage. Instead, implement it when a mortgage transaction will become a public record and you may receive unsolicited offers for a range of products.