Title Fraud


B.C. home owners protected against title fraud


      In light of recent articles in The Vancouver Sun regarding the issue of title and mortgage fraud in B.C., the B.C. Land Title and Survey Authority (LTSA) emphasizes that such cases are extremely rare because strong protections are in place in this province.

      The LTSA reports that over the past 18 years, the land title system processed 15 million transactions. During this time, two claims related to land ownership fraud were successfully resolved and only 14 claims related to mortgage fraud had been filed.

      The LTSA is not only legally obligated to confirm ownership every time a property is sold, mortgaged, leased or statutory rights of way are created, additional protection is provided through an assurance fund. That fund compensates owners deprived of their title either because of an LTSA administration error or identity theft/fraud.

      The LTSA adds that if a property owner feels their land holdings are at risk, there are simple steps to provide additional protection such as an automatic email service to your notary or lawyer when activity shows on your title.

      Alternatively, homeowners could also order a duplicate certificate of title for their own records, at a cost of approximately $50. Title could not be transferred without that document. While this provides protection, it also causes problems when such documents are lost or misplaced.

      LTSA is unaware of any cases in B.C. that required an innocent owner to pay off a fraudulently obtained mortgage on their property. Typically, when a bank asks a homeowner to pay for title insurance on a mortgage, that insurance protects the lending institution, not the home owner. However, separate insurance may be purchased that protects the owner’s equity in the property.