Paul Deloughery - September 2019





I ’m dedicating this cover article to whether Home Title Lock is all it’s cracked up to be. Home Title Lock has been advertising on satellite radio and cable television for some time. Here’s the scoop. Title fraud is when someone steals the title to your home for financial gain. Thieves simply change ownership of your home from you to them. Then they take out loans on your home and just disappear — leaving you with the payments and a mountain of legal bills. More than 9,600 victims lost over $56 million in 2017 due to mortgage fraud, according to the FBI. Running the math on this, there are 126 million homeowners in the U.S., which means you have a 0.0076% chance of being a victim of this type of fraud. That doesn’t seem very high. The real risk is to older people with a lot of equity in their homes. The cost to you, if it happens, would probably be $50,000 in legal fees. In comparison, the cost of Home Title Lock is $149/year. Before paying for this service, consider that you are much more likely to be the victim of some other form of identity theft. According to the FBI, there were 301,580 wire fraud complaints in 2017 with losses of $1.4 billion. Thus, you have a 0.9% chance of this happening to you. You can buy identity theft protection through LifeLock with $1 million of coverage for $420/year. exposing scams and things that simply don’t work. Recently, I looked into

Alternatively, here are some FREE things you can do to mitigate your risk of identity theft (including title fraud). • Monitor your current accounts daily or weekly. Use an account-aggregation app like Mint or login to your various accounts to make sure all charges were made by you. If you see something suspicious, contact your bank immediately. • File your taxes early. There could be an uptick in tax fraud after the Equifax breach of 2017. • Use secure passwords and two-step verification. Because most identity theft occurs with existing accounts, one of the best things you can do is safeguard your data online, especially for accounts that contain identifying information and credit-card or other financial data. • Set up alerts for new credit activity. Save yourself money and use a free credit- monitoring service like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. I also suggest setting fraud alerts and credit freezes with the three credit bureaus. • Check your credit reports regularly. You can access one free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus once a year through the government- sponsored While you’re at it, there may be things you can do to improve your credit score and fix any errors.

• Choose identity-verification questions and answers carefully. Additional identity- verification questions can help keep accounts secure, but not if you choose questions like “Where were you born?” that could easily be answered with access to your social media account or other personal information. In conclusion , I’d say Home Title Lock is best suited for an older person whose primary asset is the equity in their home. They are the primary targets of title fraud, so the $149/year cost makes sense to protect their primary asset. The information in this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

–Paul Deloughery, Esq.

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