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Tips to Avoid Fraud

Escrow Group Gives Anti-fraud Advice - Governor Schwarzenegger Declares October 'Escrow Month'

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- (Oct. 5, 2006) In the face of a seemingly never-ending barrage of wrenching news stories mourning the fates of would-be homeowners who've been duped by mortgage fraud - now, more than ever - the importance of working with a certified escrow practitioner has become glaringly clear - especially for Californians. According to the FBI, Southern California has the most reports of mortgage fraud in the country, topping the closest region in the number of reported cases by over 35 percent. Since January 1 of 2006, the FBI has received 2,293 reports of suspected fraud in the Los Angeles area alone, and 4,228 in the Southern California region. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared the month of October as "escrow month" in honor of the California Escrow Association's (www.ceaescrow.org) efforts to de-mystify the escrow process and, through education, to help eliminate the state's bourgeoning fraud issue.

Even as the California housing market cools, escrow professionals continue to fight back against fraud. Leading the fight is the California Escrow Association (CEA). In a letter to CEA, Governor Schwarzenegger states, "The efficacy and education of escrow professionals is one of California's priorities, seeing as their work directly impacts residents, real estate industries and financial institutions. Since your association's inception, you have worked to promote high standards of ethical professionalism and quality service among your members. Because of the changing nature of their industry, escrow professionals rely on your organization to keep them abreast of the latest technology and legislative updates that effect consumers. I commend your efforts in encouraging exemplary services from your members and recognize the escrow professional's importance to California's economy."

Below are four security tips from the California Escrow Association (CEA) designed to arm consumers against fraud:

  • Request a credit report. Check your credit report yearly and make sure no false loans are appearing. You have the option of receiving one free credit report each calendar year.
  • Verify that you are listed as the exclusive owner of your home or land. Call the customer service department of your title company and they will be able to verify your status and assist with any problems you may have.
  • Check your tax bill. This is one of the easiest things to do. Your status as the true owner of the home should be verified on each tax bill you receive.
  • Make a habit of shredding any document or mail item - that includes any of your personal information - before placing it in your trash. That will deter anyone from sifting through your trash for information.

  • SOURCE: California Escrow Association
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