What You Should Know About Title Fraud

From The Blog

28 March 2023

What you should know about title fraud.

By Joe Richer Registrar, Real Estate Council of Ontario

As published in the Toronto Star on Friday, March 24, 2023

What you should know about title fraud.

What is title fraud? Does it affect you? Should you be concerned?

In any event, it’s important to know what this form of fraud involves.

Identity theft has received considerable media coverage recently, and March is Fraud Prevention Month, so it makes sense to take the opportunity to educate yourself about it.

Title fraud is essentially when someone sells your property, or registers a lien or mortgage on your property, without your knowledge or authorization.

It usually begins with identity theft, which may happen if someone takes your personal information and impersonates you. Something to bear in mind is that identity theft scammers often target absent property owners, older homeowners, or owners who have completely paid off their mortgages. These are the more common targets, but scammers don’t discriminate and can come after anyone.

This is, of course, quite concerning given that a homeowner can fall victim to such fraud, be left with a substantial mortgage on their property, or, worse, even end up with someone else living in, and owning, their home.

That is why it is crucial for you to take steps to protect yourself.

If you are in the market to purchase a home, I would highly recommend that you seek the expertise of a lawyer who is insured to practice real estate law. Besides reviewing the fine print, checking the property’s title to confirm ownership, and answering any questions you may have, they can also walk you through the benefits of purchasing title insurance. This can offer protection from title fraud, among other things.


There are some other practical steps you can take to protect your identity and detect potential scammers:


  • Frequently examine your credit card, bank and other financial statements for transactions that you may have not authorized. Every year, review the information in your credit report (which you can obtain through Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada).
  • Be mindful of your billing cycles, and, if your bills don’t arrive on time, contact a customer service representative.
  • Never share your personal or financial information over the telephone, via email or online, unless you initiated the conversation or can confirm who contacted you.
  • Shred all financial documents before you discard them.
  • Be exceptionally cautious with your Social Insurance Number (SIN), because it’s a valuable piece of personal identification that criminals may want. Being asked to provide photo identification by a real estate agent before you visit a home for a showing and/or submit an offer is standard practice. However, please note that your SIN will only be requested in exceptional situations. If you are asked for it, please consult with your lawyer before sharing it.

If you believe that you, or somebody you know has experienced real estate fraud, contact the Real Estate Council of Ontario at 1-800-245-6910. I would also suggest that you reach out to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, and your local police service.


Using a real estate sales representative can help to protect you against fraudulent activity.

Avoiding fraudulent situations is just one reason that you should always hire a respected and experienced local Realtor® whenever you’re buying or selling property. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) licenses real estate professionals in the province and enforces the rules that Realtors® must follow. This includes some rules related to verifying the identities of every individual who is taking part in a real estate transaction. An effective agent will take steps to protect clients from errors, misrepresentation, fraud or any unethical practice in respect of a trade in real estate.

If you have any questions or concerns related to safely buying or selling real estate in Grey County, please contact us today.



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