Industry and Governments Step Up, but Public Education Still a Must
Oakville, Ontario – March 3, 2008 – March is Fraud Awareness Month in Canada, and First Canadian Title, Canada’s leading provider of title insurance, is taking steps to remind consumers that awareness and caution are necessary to help protect against real estate fraud and identity theft.
“Important strides have been made and governments are doing their part to legislate in favour of individual victims of real estate title fraud – but legislation can only compensate for so much,” said Gary Ford, vice president, First Canadian Title, and author of The Canadian Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Other Fraud. “It is going to take continued vigilance on the part of consumers, industry and governments if we are going to make a meaningful difference in terms of fraud prevention.”
Fraud Awareness Month is a national initiative designed to draw attention to all forms of fraud, including real estate title fraud and identity theft. As part of the initiative, First Canadian Title is providing consumers with a “Protect Your Title Tool Kit,” which offers information about real estate title fraud, identity theft and protection tips. The tool kit is available at www.ProtectYourTitle.com.
“Although real estate title fraud is far less frequent than other forms of fraud involving identity theft, it is a violation that can have devastating and long-lasting effects on its victims,” said Ford. “And one of the great injustices about this type of fraud is that perpetrators are rarely caught.”
Real estate title fraud can take several forms, and it often starts with identity theft. A basic scam can be simple: a fraudster targets a house, forges a transfer deed using a stolen identity, registers title to the property in his or her own name, forges a discharge of the existing mortgage and borrows against the clear title.
“Provincial systems are protecting consumers better than ever, but they do not eliminate the painful process of restitution that is required in the event that criminals manage to cheat the system,” said Ford. “Homeowners without title protection must navigate through the process unaided at a time when they are most vulnerable – and title insurance can help alleviate the stress and financial burden.”
Over the past four years, First Canadian Title has embarked on a number of high-profile consumer campaigns and partnerships to raise awareness of the issue of real estate title fraud and identity theft. The company has prevented millions of dollars in potentially fraudulent real estate transactions by flagging transactions which are deemed potentially fraudulent through internal investigations by the company’s underwriting department.
Since identity theft and real estate title theft are so closely related, First Canadian Title recently began offering identity theft insurance to its title insurance policyholders. In the event of identity theft, a victim may face financial loss, banking issues and damaged credit. Identity theft insurance allows a consumer to recover losses from identity theft quickly and return to normal life.
About First Canadian Title
First Canadian Title is Canada’s leading provider of title insurance and other related products and services for residential and commercial real estate transactions. Founded in 1991 and based in Oakville, Ontario, First Canadian Title employs approximately 1,000 people from coast to coast. Its customers include more than 15,000 lawyers and notaries nationwide, every major Canadian chartered bank, credit unions, other lending institutions, real estate agents, mortgage brokers and builders. First Canadian Title is the registered business name of FCT Insurance Company Ltd. and of the Canadian branch of First American Title Insurance Company. For more information about First Canadian Title, please visit www.firstcanadiantitle.com.
About First American
The First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF) is a FORTUNE 500® company that traces its history to 1889. With revenues of approximately $8.2 billion in 2007, it is America’s largest provider of business information. First American combines advanced analytics with its vast data resources to supply businesses and consumers with valuable information products to support the major economic events of people’s lives, such as getting a job, renting an apartment, buying a car or house, securing a mortgage and opening or buying a business. The First American Family of Companies, many of which command leading market share positions in their respective industries, operate within five primary business segments, including: Title Insurance and Services, Specialty Insurance, Mortgage Information, Property Information and First Advantage. More information about the company and an archive of its press releases can be found at www.firstam.com.