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Do Not Respond to Home Deed/Warranty Mailers

Written By Jennifer Pitt

September 1, 2023

Buying a home is a major purchase, and it is the crux of the American dream. So, when you receive an official-looking letter in the mail, detailing an urgency to record a home deed or extend a home warranty, you panic and start asking yourself a series of questions:

I thought the deed was recorded when I signed the

purchase contracts and bought the home. If it wasn’t,

does that mean I don’t own the house?

 

How can my warranty be expired? I just bought the

house. Did I have a warranty? Was that something

that came with the house? Can I afford home repairs

without a warranty?

As these questions race through your mind, you read the mailer again. And much to your delight, the mailer notes that the issue can be fixed… for a small fee. So, you decide that it’s better to be safe than sorry. And you send money to the address listed on the mailer, to record your home deed or to reinstate your home warranty.

Unfortunately, you just fell victim to a scam. Though the mailer contained an official-looking seal and letterhead, it was not official. It was a scam.

Unfortunately, this happens every day. Home Deed Scams and  Home Warranty Scams are still very prevalent.  Don’t become the scammer’s next victim.

 

The following are overviews of the Home Deed Scam and Home Warranty Scam, along with some prevention tips to help you avoid becoming a victim:

Home Deed Scam:

Official-looking letters/mailers, asking homeowners to pay a fee to record a home deed by a certain deadline.

Home Warranty Scam:

Official-looking letters/mailers, noting that the home warranty is going to expire. For a small fee, a new warranty can be purchased.

Prevention Tips:

  • NEVER give money or information to someone who contacts you. This includes contacts via phone call, text message, social media, and mail.

 

  • Do not contact the information listed on the correspondence.

 

Instead, contact the county recorder’s office or your mortgage lender to verify that your home deed has already been recorded.

 

  • If you have or want a home warranty, conduct your own research. Contact the company you found through your research.

 

  • All scams contain the same elements. If these elements are present, IT IS a scam.

 

When you receive ANY correspondence or call (mail, text, email, social media post), look for these scam elements:

Urgency, Ask, Consequences, Trustworthy (UACT):

  • A sense of urgency (this could include an expiration date)

  • An ask for money or information

  • A consequence for not giving money/information (continuing to reiterate urgency)

  • It will appear to come from a trustworthy source.

 

With these tips, I hope to help you avoid becoming a scam victim.

And I hope to empower you to have your own voice against fraud.

 

The Story of My "Why"

Written By Jennifer Pitt

February 19, 2022

The man's face became pale, and he appeared to be embarrassed. He expressed his shock and humiliation. He had heard the stories. He had read the news articles - people scammed out of their life savings. “How could they be so stupid? How could they fall for these scams?”, he asked himself.

 

He swore that would NEVER happen to him. He would NEVER become a victim of a scam. After all, he was a 70-year-old, sharp-minded, intelligent, proud, military veteran…Yet here he was… talking with me… a law enforcement officer… about becoming the victim he never thought he'd be.

 

As I spoke more with the man, I couldn't help but think of how much he reminded me of my own grandfather, and my eyes began to water. I hid my tears well and continued to talk with him. As we spoke more, the man’s eyes began to well up. He then shook his head and asked, “How could I be so stupid? How could I fall for this scam?” - the very same questions he’d asked himself about other scam victims.

 

During our conversation, I had an overwhelming sense of sadness and guilt. I wish I could have been there before this man gave away his money. I wish I could have been there to talk him out of it. If I'd only met this man sooner, maybe he wouldn't have become a victim.

 

This man is an actual fraud victim I spoke with during an investigation. And this is why I started Voice Against Fraud, LLC. I don't want anyone to ever feel what this man felt. My hope, my goal is that, by teaching fraud prevention, there will be no more victims. 

 

Empowering Seniors to Protect Themselves Against Fraud

Written By Jennifer Pitt

April 28, 2021

An estimated 7.68 million cases of elder fraud occur every year in the United States, equating to approximately $148 billion dollars in loss each year (according to www.comparitech.com, a website that compares crime, service, and medical data). This figure may be low, as many states do not include the term “elder” in criminal law, and these cases are not always reported.

 

This is my journey from frustrated, reactive, fraud fighter to proactive fraud consultant empowering seniors to avoid becoming victims. Please join me on this journey and learn how to protect yourself against fraud.

Being a former law enforcement officer, seasoned fraud investigator, and a recognized Subject Matter Expert in elder financial exploitation (in both Colorado and Arizona) has helped me to truly realize how often the elderly are forgotten. Laws protecting children are far more current and advanced than laws protecting the elderly, and law enforcement action is often reactive.

 

While many seniors are very capable of protecting themselves, there are still those that (due to advanced aging, physical impairments, or cognitive issues) are forced to rely on others for help. Because of this and their often-trusting nature, these “vulnerable adults” and other seniors are often the targets of many types of fraud. This fraud includes identity theft (stealing personal identifying information through technology or surveys), scams (fraud in which the suspect casts a wide net looking for anyone’s information or money), and financial exploitation (a targeted attack on a specific individual – usually by caregivers or family - to take money over a longer period of time).

 

Unfortunately, criminal investigations or prosecutions of these cases are often unsuccessful, and (depending on the jurisdiction), these crimes often carry very little penalty.

 

Identity theft is so rampant that police often cannot keep up with it. With our increasing reliance on technology and the pace at which technology changes, identity thieves can very easily steal your personal information. Scams are often difficult to prosecute or even investigate, as these suspects are often in other countries, and therefore may evade capture. Financial exploitation often occurs over a long period of time; therefore, these cases often take several months to a year to investigate. After the investigation is complete, prosecutors are often hesitant to try these cases in court, because they are more challenging (family members, powers of attorney, or caregivers are often the suspects).

 

It has been very frustrating, to say the least, to realize and understand these hurdles when we are all simply trying to help elderly victims of financial crimes.

 

So many times in my career, I have spoken to elderly victims who lost everything from these financial criminals. They lost their life savings. They lost money that was to be endowed to family. Some lost their homes or other memorable items. They lost hope in humanity – to know that someone could be so cruel as to take their last dime or prized possessions. They were embarrassed and didn’t know where to turn. These victims were from all walks of life – teachers, military veterans, former police officers, and financial and business moguls.

 

It’s heartbreaking to look into the eyes of an elderly victim as they try to hold back tears, not knowing what to do next or how to handle the situation, wondering how they could have been fooled, wondering why they were targeted. And I’ve spoken to their families, who are just as confused and heartbroken that their loved one, a senior, who we are supposed to protect, was a victim…again.

 

It has been heartbreaking to know that I was not able to prevent this from happening, that I was there to investigate after it happened. I want to empower seniors to not become victims, so they can avoid this heartache and live their lives as carefree as possible.

 

In early 2020, I created Voice Against Fraud, LLC in hopes of empowering seniors and their families to fight against fraud, by teaching classes on the prevention of identity theft, scams, and financial exploitation. Please join me in my quest to help seniors protect themselves.

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