House Stealing: How thieves can steal your home without you knowing it

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Federal Bureau of Investigations is sharing a warning about a crime epidemic that could impact most homeowners.

It's called house stealing, or deed fraud and according to the FBI, it's one of the fastest growing white-collar crimes in America.

"It's something that I think people really aren't aware of. They think maybe their homeowner's policy or their identity theft protection will cover this, it doesn't," said retired FBI Agent Art Pfizenmayer.

Pfizenmayer said victims of this crime lose an average of $100,000 a year and for thieves stealing your home is easy.

"Anybody can go into the recorder of deeds office and look at your deed, get a copy of your deed…forge the deed to your house and file it at the recorder of deeds. And when they do that they've essentially changed the ownership of that house from your name to their name," said Pfizenmayer.

He said this can also be done online. Once the transfer is complete, Pfizenmayer said thieves usually take out additional loans and after years of paying the mortgage on time those loan companies come after the victim who has no idea what happened.

"They say we're going to foreclose on your house because you owe us money and we're going to sell your house so we get paid back," said Pfizenmayer.

Pfizenmayer says there is a way to avoid being a house stealing victim.

He recommends regularly monitoring your deed or hiring a company like home title lock (https://www.hometitlelock.com/how-it-works) to monitor it.

Pfizenmayer said if you are a victim of house stealing most law enforcement agencies consider it a civil matter and suggest you hiring a civil attorney. Most cases take 2 years to resolve.

Pfizenmayer will be on WBTV News Sunday Morning May 20th to answer questions about house stealing. Viewers can send questions to: micahsmith@wbtv.com

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