Not quite worried enough that identity thieves might empty your bank account or ruin your credit rating with a shopping spree in your name?
In the US, the FBI says those concerns are small spuds compared to what might happen when crooks parlay identity theft and mortgage fraud into "a totally new kind of crime: house stealing."
- ... The con artists start by picking out a house to steal - say, YOURS.
- ... Next, they assume your identity - getting a hold of your name and personal information (easy enough to do off the Internet) and using that to create fake IDs, social security cards, etc.
- ... Then, they go to an office supply store and purchase forms that transfer property.
- ... After forging your signature and using the fake IDs, they file these deeds with the proper authorities, and lo and behold, your house is now THEIRS.
Sometimes it will be an empty house or vacation home, sometimes the thieves will work their schemes while the homeowner and their families go on about their normal everyday lives, says the FBI.
The US Justice Department details one such case in this press release.
Although the FBI says mortgage fraud is "pervasive and growing," the combination of identity theft and mortgage fraud -- this so-called house stealing -- is "not too common at this point."
(No word in the press release about those who might welcome having their houses stolen, given the disparity between what they owe and what the homes are worth. ... Yes, I'm kidding.)