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Scamming Seniors – Title Fraud Common with Elderly Homeowners

By November 13, 2017No Comments

Unfortunately, it seems that someone is always scamming seniors – and title fraud is one of the more common real estate scams among the older generation of homeowners in Canada. Often, older homeowners are mortgage-free or fairly close, and that makes older adults a bonanza for fraudsters.

Title fraud can happen in one of two ways:

  • Steal identities – scammers use stolen or fake identification or documents to pose as the legitimate homeowner and get one or more mortgages on the property, then walk away with the cash.
  • Register forged documents – this allows fraudsters to discharge any existing mortgages and transfer the property to themselves, register a new mortgage against the property’s clear title, and cash in.

While title fraud can be rare, the results are, without a doubt, financially and personally devastating, especially for seniors, many who bank on their mortgage-free home as their retirement investment. However, over the last number of years, title fraud has become more common. Unfortunately, people who are scamming seniors through title fraud have been successful in some cases, and they’re getting smarter.

This Globe and Mail article explores some of horror stories of seniors scammed by title fraud:

Why are seniors so often targeted?

  • They are often more trusting.
  • They can be isolated or lonely.
  • They may have more assets than most.
  • Most seniors have spent their lives building credit and stocking retirement funds.

How can seniors avoid title fraud? While title fraud can be difficult to prevent, it can be relatively easy to avoid. The single most important thing older homeowners can to do protect against title fraud costs is absolutely nothing: don’t sign any document that you do not completely understand. The most difficult thing to overcome is your own signature.

Being vigilant also helps – all homeowners should regularly check with the provincial land registry office to ensure that the title of their home is still in their name, and they should review their credit report annually to ensure everything is correct. If they don’t already have it, homeowners should consider purchasing title insurance as it’s the most secure way of preventing title fraud.

In your ongoing efforts to position yourself as an expert real estate sales professional, and as part of your community networking efforts, you may want to consider running a free title fraud workshop to help identify situations with people scamming seniors. Not only can you demonstrate your real estate expertise, but they’ll remember your concern and regard for senior citizens when they decide to choose a real estate sales professional to sell their home and buy their next one.

From mitigating risk to helping seniors buy a home, find out how GeoWarehouse provides access to a variety of reports and information that will give you the competitive edge.

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