Buying a home is a big investment, and it's important to do everything you can to protect yourself from scams. One way to do this is to order a municipal lien search.
A municipal lien search is a process of checking public records to identify any hidden outstanding debts or encumbrances on a property. This search can protect homeowners from scams by alerting them to any outstanding debts or obligations on the property, which could be used as a bargaining chip by a scam artist.
But, how can a lien be used to scam me, as a homeowner?
Here are 3 examples:
1. A scam artist may claim that they have a lien on your property and demand payment.
This is a common scam, and it's important to be aware of it. If someone contacts you claiming to have a lien on your property, the first thing you should do is check the public records to see if it's true. You can do this by ordering a municipal lien search.
If there is no lien on your property, you should politely tell the person that they are mistaken and hang up the phone. If there is a lien on your property, you should contact the lien holder directly to discuss the matter. Never give your payment information out over the phone to anyone who claims to be the lien holder without having them provide supporting documentation.
2. A scam artist may offer to help you clear a lien on your property for a fee.
This is another common scam. The scam artist will typically tell you that they can help you clear a lien on your property for a fee. However, they will not actually be able to clear the lien, and you will be out the money you paid them. There may not even be a lien to clear on your property!
If someone offers to help you clear a lien on your property for a fee, you should be very skeptical. You should never pay someone to help you clear a lien unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate.
3. A scam artist may try to sell you a property that is already in foreclosure.
This is a more sophisticated scam, but it's still worth being aware of. The scam artist will typically find a property that is in foreclosure and then try to sell it to you. They will often make false promises about the property, such as saying that it's in good condition or that it's a good investment.
If you're considering buying a property that is in foreclosure, you should do your research carefully. You should check the public records to see if the property is actually in foreclosure. You should also hire a real estate attorney to review the contract before you sign it.
How to protect yourself from these scams:
The best way to protect yourself from these scams is to be aware of them. If you know what to look for, you'll be less likely to fall victim to a scam.
Here are some tips for protecting yourself from real estate scams:
- Do your research. Before you buy a property, be sure to do your research and check the public records. This will help you identify any hidden debts or encumbrances on the property, if any.
- Hire a real estate attorney. A real estate attorney can help you review the contract and ensure that you're making a sound purchase.
- Be skeptical of unsolicited offers. If someone contacts you out of the blue with an offer to help you pay off your liens, it's probably too good to be true. Scam artists often use this tactic to target unsuspecting homeowners.
- Don't pay for anything upfront. Never pay for anything upfront, such as a down payment or closing costs, until you've met the seller, hired a real estate professional to assist, and ensured that the deal is legitimate.
By following these tips, you can help protect yourself from real estate scams.
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