By Guest Contributor

According to the FBI, property and mortgage fraud are among the fastest-growing crimes in the nation. Older adult homeowners are often targeted because scammers assume their property is paid off.

One method scammers use to take possession of your property is through a quitclaim deed, a simple document that enables immediate transfer of ownership once signed by a notary public. Quitclaim deeds are designed to easily transfer homeownership, such as between parents and children. However, criminals can exploit these documents to seize property from the rightful owner. They can then file the quitclaim with the county register, who may not be able to legally reject it. 

Once the scammer has the quitclaim deed, they might rent out the home, sell it, or use it as collateral for a loan. Challenging this can be difficult and may result in a legal battle.

How to protect your property:

  • Check property records on the county’s register of deeds
  • Never transfer ownership to a mortgage assistance company
  • Monitor your credit with all three bureaus
  • Enroll in a property fraud alert programĀ 

If you think you’re a victim of deed fraud:

  • Notify local law enforcement
  • Get a certified copy of the fake document from the county register of deeds
  • Contact an attorney

Sources:,, AgeWell Middle Tennessee