I recently received an email from a California attorney warning that several companies have been targeting older individuals in an effort to scam money from them regarding their ownership of real estate.  Specifically, they are demanding payment to record deeds or to provide copies of recorded deeds. In the event that you receive correspondence from a third party demanding payment for services relating to deeds, do not pay the bill.  Notify our office immediately.

Last month, Realtor.com posted an article about another type of fraud on seniors through the use of Quit Claim Deeds. The article noted that this type of fraud involves convincing the senior that transferring the property to them would be a financially sound move. Some instances involved using high-pressure tactics or threats to frighten the senior into transferring their property.  There have also been instances where the homeowner’s name was forged on a document and falsely notarized.  Once the impostor appeared to own the property, they could put it up for sale or use it as collateral to take out a loan.

Please use considerable caution when doing so. Even when a property is being transferred to a family member, you should follow these rules:

  • DO NOT sign a quitclaim deed or any other document that transfers the property to another person or trust without first consulting an independent attorney.
  • Never sign a contract or other documents under pressure. Seek help, from an attorney, social services agency, legal aid or someone you trust to review any foreclosure-related paperwork. Be especially wary of offers to take over ownership of your home as part of a deal that allows you to rent your home and then buy it back after a few years.
  • Never make verbal agreements. Never sign blank pages where information can be added later. Never sign anything you do not understand.
  • Avoid doing business with individuals or companies that call themselves mortgage consultants, foreclosure services or similar without thoroughly checking their credentials. Be sure to ask for references from licensing agencies, or check with the Better Business Bureau and trade groups.
  • Recommendations from family, friends, coworkers and others you trust are also a good resource. A legitimate mortgage consultant can help find the best loan and help with an unfavorable loan.