Deeds often get filed without the benefit of a title search or a real estate attorney, such as a quit claim that shares or gifts all of the property to a trusted friend or family member.
Thieves can take advantage of this to forge the owner’s name on a deed, gifting the property to themselves, and then filing it with the county. Then they take out a loan to drain the equity, or perhaps sell the property.
The county clerk is not expected to verify the authenticity of these deed filings. The property owner won’t learn about it until the loan has defaulted, the money is gone, and their home is being foreclosed upon, or the sheriff is telling them to move out because there are new owners.
The easiest targets are homes belonging to the elderly because they usually have a lot of equity in their home. Another easy target is investment property that may not be closely watched, especially if it is vacant land, or no one is living there.
All the information a scammer needs is right there on the internet – the tax assessors list the names of the owners and real estate deed records are public records for anyone to search.
Home title monitoring companies also use the internet to check for unauthorized activity regarding your title. Understand that they don’t check for identity theft, only deed action. They will send an alert if they spot any activity with the deed.