Buying your dream California property can be an exhilarating and stressful experience. Acquiring real estate typically involves a number of steps involving multiple parties who are all working on relatively tight deadlines. Therefore, even if the process goes smoothly, you’ll still likely experience some minor delays or aggravation. In some cases, you could find yourself the victim of fraud.
You’ll typically need to make several payments before your transaction closes. For instance, you may need to make an earnest money deposit after your offer is accepted, and it’s also common to wire money into an account dedicated to closing costs. However, it’s important to verify wiring instructions before you send anything as a scammer could easily pose as your agent or other party affiliated with the transaction. If you’re not careful, you could be giving a bad actor thousands of dollars and derail your chances of becoming a homeowner.
Title or deed fraud
This type of scam works when someone misrepresents themselves as the owner of the property that you want to buy. However, the real owner of the home has no idea that the title to the house is changing hands. Typically, your real estate team will do a title search prior to allowing a purchase to go through. Doing so will help to ensure that there are no issues that could prevent you from taking legal ownership of the property.
You can reduce your risk of real estate fraud by remaining in constant communication with your real estate agent. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you think something is amiss or you aren’t sure how to proceed as it relates to sending money or signing documents.
If you are a victim of real estate fraud, it may be possible to get your money back if you can identify the party that engaged in inappropriate behavior. However, it’s also important to check your credit report and take other steps to ensure that your data and financial accounts are secure both now and in the long term.