Most of us would find out pretty quickly if ordinary thieves broke into our homes or rental properties. But did you know that the paper trail of real estate ownership alone can attract identity thieves? This threat is something real estate investors must be aware of and vigilant about. Just as you wouldn't leave a Rolex in the window or your keys in the door of your home, you must take reasonable precaution to avoid becoming the next victim of opportunity.
Thieves will be attracted to anyone with money or assets. However, real estate investors are particularly vulnerable because simply buying or owning property leaves a paper trail. Or, to be more accurate, a digital trail. This matters to potential identity thieves, because information is their bread and butter. In fact, it may be helpful for you to think of identity thieves as information thieves.
Here are some of the tasty morsels a thief can easily access from public record: your name, address, contact information, and if you aren't careful, financial records of your transactions. Something as innocuous as an appraisal can become dangerous in the wrong hands. In years past, a thief would have to make a trek across town to the courthouse for this kind of information. Nowadays, it's a Google search away from anyone in the world.
By the way, thieves aren't the only ones who can get this information. A vindictive ex, envious family member, or disgruntled employee could spell equally bad news for you.
The answer comes down to one word: anonymity. To protect your information, it's best to keep your name off of it all together. Tools like the Anonymous Trust, land trusts, and corporate structures such as the Series LLC can prove critical for protecting your identity.
Think about it: if your name isn't on anything, someone would have to work much harder to connect you to your assets in the first place. We've talked before about how asset protection makes you difficult to sue. If a lawyer can't be bothered to research you and your assets, a thief is even less likely to roll the dice on you. After all, the lawyer can bill their client for research. A thief only gets his payday when he successfully steals something.
Why does this strategy work? The blunt answer is that thieves are lazy. Highly motivated individuals go to school and get careers. Any old jerk can steal stuff. The way to make yourself less likely to be targeted is to make yourself a tougher target.
Identity thieves will go for the low-hanging fruit: public information. So don't give it to them. Make yourself difficult to find.
If you still have questions about anonymity or protecting your assets from identity theft, fire away in the comments below. At Royal Legal Solutions, we take the anonymity of our clients extremely seriously. We offer multiple services solely to protect your anonymity, and with it, your hard-earned real estate assets. When you purchase a land trust from Royal Legal Solutions, our name is what potential identity thieves would see when they attempt to research your records. Yours is kept private. If you want the best protection possible, schedule your confidential land trust consultation today.
Scott Royal Smith is an asset protection attorney and long-time real estate investor. He's on a mission to help fellow investors free their time, protect their assets, and create lasting wealth.
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