Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following tips to protect yourself against becoming a victim of mortgage fraud.
Be an informed consumer! Be wary of anyone who approaches you with an offer to make "easy money" in real estate. Remember: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Protect yourself and your family from becoming victims of or accomplices to mortgage fraud. This means:
• Never deliberately misrepresent information when applying for a mortgage.
• Never accept money, guarantee a loan or add your name to a mortgage unless you fully intend to purchase the property. If you allow your personal information to be used for a mortgage you could be held responsible for the entire debt if the mortgage defaults.
• Always know who you are doing business with and never sign anything without understanding exactly what you are signing.
• Use licensed or accredited mortgage and real estate professionals.
• Get independent legal advice from your own lawyer/notary and talk to them about title insurance and other methods of protection.
•Contact the local provincial and titles office to obtain the sales history of any property you are thinking about buying and consider having it inspected and appraised. An accredited appraiser will provide the property sales and MLS history.
• Find out from your lawyer if anyone other than the seller has a financial interest in the home or if there are any outstanding liens or tax arrears.
• If a deposit is required, make sure the funds are payable to and held "in trust" by the vendor's realty company or by a lawyer/notary.
You can also help to protect yourself by inspecting your credit report at least annually.