When it comes to being scammed, did you know that some homeowners are more vulnerable than others? And this doesn’t just apply to seniors although they are probably one of the most prominent stories you’ll hear about on the news since these types of scams tug at our heartstrings when it involves our beloved elderly population. As a homeowner, you owe it to your family to ensure their home and safety for years to come. Do yourself a favor and read through to see if you fall into any of the following categories for vulnerable homeowners.
According to HomeLock™, these are the most vulnerable homeowner victims ranked and identified:
- High Equity, No Mortgage Homes
When you own a high equity, no mortgage home, it’s like having money in the bank. It’s less likely thieves will go after vulnerable homeowners that have minimal equity, but they will actively pursue someone who owns their home free and clear, especially if your home is more valuable. A thief can steal your identity, use this information to forge a deed so they appear to be the property owner. They can then cash out the equity or refinance your home, either way taking the cash and running – all without you knowing it until it’s too late.
- Non-Owner Occupied Homes
Essentially a non-owner occupied home is a property whereby the person who financed it will not be living at the residence. In theory, they could own multiple homes where because of other obligations, they don’t pay as much attention to the properties as they should. Thieves can again generate and register forged documents, and then take possession of the property without your consent or knowledge.
- Vacation Homes
Scammers will target vulnerable homeowners through their vacation rental properties. We all know to watch out for emails with poor English skills or strange email addresses, or when someone wants to rent your vacation home and accidentally sends too much money and requests a refund – these are all signs of scams we’ve become accustomed to. But, if you don’t visit your vacation home regularly, you could find out that your home was advertised for rent, or even possibly for sale, without your knowledge. See Rental Homes, next.
- Rental Homes
Owners of rental homes can be scammed when their properties are listed fraudulently on real estate rental sites when they’re not available for rent. Crooks will pose as the owner and take money from the new renter including the first/last month’s rent, plus a damage deposit, only for the excited renter to find out later they were scammed and you need to deal with the issue as the actual owner of the property. According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers can also hijack your legitimate rental listing and proceed to do the same thing to as many people as they can before getting caught.
- Investment Properties
As someone may own multiple investment properties, again their attention may be turned elsewhere making them instantly vulnerable to property changes they may not be aware of until it’s too late. Forging documents, registering them, and taking possession can occur within a matter of days.
- Foreclosure Properties
Vulnerable homeowners may have homes in foreclosure. A classic fraud case happened in Florida in 2011 when a criminal forged a series of quit claim deeds and then took possession of the non-occupied homes, posed as a realtor, and proceeded to rent them out. Even accidental foreclosures can occur through bank errors or when a couple divorces and one of them defaults on a loan that’s attached to the mortgage.
- Senior Homeowners
It’s an unfortunate fact, but seniors are vulnerable homeowners as many have high-equity, no mortgage homes. Besides that, many are too proud or may even be unable to ask family or friends for advice before falling victim to a homeowner scam that can come in the form of:
- a fraudulent reverse mortgage
- being offered a low ball sale for cash
- giving out personal information over the phone or by email which can then lead to identity theft and title fraud
- 1st-Time Homeowners
A very common real estate scam takes place when fraudsters gain access to information about a real estate transaction in progress, spoofing the email posing as either the realtor, banker, or lawyer while providing detailed instructions on how to wire the closing funds to them. You wire the funds and now you’ve just lost both the home of your dreams and your money.
- Deployed Military Homeowners
Because you’ll be absent from your home for potentially long periods of time, thieves will target vulnerable homeowners through their VA loans. Unfortunately, it’s the same scenario playing out whereby your military identity is stolen, false documents are produced and then filed, and your home is lost.
- International Homeowners
If you own a home abroad, many factors can contribute to being vulnerable homeowners including being absentee owners and even possible language barriers. Your home could easily be offered for rent or sale without you knowing it until it’s too late.
11. Multiple Homeowners
Even if you’re an absolute stickler for detail, a culprit could target any one of your properties without your knowledge. A quit claim deed could be filed or identity theft could occur meaning all of your hard-earned properties could be stolen right out from underneath you.
12. ADA, Disabled Homeowners
Unfortunately, people that fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act are vulnerable homeowners. Whether it’s a physical disability that would preclude them from signing or filing paperwork in person, or a challenging situation for them otherwise, crooks will find ways to take advantage of their situations. They’ll even claim to be representatives of a bank, a government agency, or whatever it takes for them to convince a person to sign paperwork or give up their personal information.
But the answer to avoiding all of these costly criminal schemes that target vulnerable homeowners is easy: sign up for HomeLock™ today.
HomeLock™ is the #1 rated fraud protection system in America. As immediate detection is the best defense, HomeLock™ scans and monitors 200+ data points for 360-degree coverage 24/7/365. Besides the above scary fraud scenarios, HomeLock™ will also alert you to missed payments, county-level clerical errors, or even unpaid bills.
HomeLock™ also includes our award-winning Homeowner Enablement Platform designed to save you time and money while providing functional tools including document organization, service provider management, home value tracking, and more! And when you sign up for HomeLock™ today, you’ll receive your comprehensive 7-year home history report and scan free of charge.
For more information related to fraud, read:
Actionable Tips to Make Your Home Safer
Cyber Security Awareness – Top Cyber Safety Tips