The Colorado Title & Closing Services team appreciates all that our Realtor partners and loan officers do to help protect customers from the dangers of fraud. Cybercrime continues to be a growing threat to the real estate industry, and we are committed to providing you with the best resources, news, and recommendations on how to make the buying and selling process as safe and secure for your clients as possible.
Recently, we have been receiving questions about a service called Title Lock.
You might have even heard or seen the ominous radio and television ads proclaiming, “The FBI says you may not own your home! Home theft is a serious cyberthreat that can and WILL affect you. Save yourself and your home!”
Those are some bold claims that make Title Lock sound like a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to protecting your clients’ property rights. But is it necessary?
Maybe not, and here is why.
Though it might be marketed as such, Title Lock is not title insurance whatsoever. It is an annual or monthly subscription service that monitors the public records to see whether the title to the property has been transferred out of the customer’s name. If it has, they notify the customer that fraud may have taken place.
Sounds good, so what is the problem?
That is the extent of the service. Though Title Lock may offer recommendations or provide contacts on what to do next, the service does not promise to provide financial support to the customer to correct the attempted theft of the customer’s property. The service also does not cover any of the resulting monetary burdens resulting from legal fees to void the fraudulent transfer.
At best, it might provide a little extra “peace of mind.” But your clients can carry out the service Title Lock provides on their own with a little upfront investment of time and a few minutes each month.
In most counties in Colorado, homeowners can access the county property ownership records online free of charge and periodically monitor any deed conveyances of the property themselves. This is the same process that Title Lock performs via an automated platform.
If the customer has a deed of trust or mortgage on the property, they are less likely to be victims of home title theft. Plus, if they are living in the house, it would be very difficult to sell the house without the unsuspecting buyer seeing it, whether in person or virtually.
Whether or not your customers choose to purchase Title Lock is their personal decision, but we encourage you to remind them that it’s no substitute for a true title insurance policy, which protects them by verifying the ownership of the home title before their purchase. Unlike Title Lock, title insurance is a one-time fee that protects the customer during their ownership against defects created prior to their taking title. If the insured incurs a claim covered by the policy, the insurance company has lawyers that handle the claim at no expense to the customer. In fact, the next time someone brings up this service is the perfect opportunity to talk about the protection provided by title insurance.
You can check out this article for more insights on Title Lock. And remember, you can always reach out to the Colorado Title & Closing Services team any time you or your clients have a question about the benefits of title insurance.