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Find out if your title is fake

by Jillian CariolaPublished: January 15, 2014Updated: June 4, 2014

Suspicious about the authenticity of your property’s title? There are ways to find out if it’s fake.

In every real estate deal, you want to make sure the transaction is legal and won’t cause you any future problems, so you work only with legitimate sellers and agents. Still, there are instances when the transaction has already fallen through and the buyer doesn't know that he got scammed until he takes a closer look at the title. If you recently bought a property, here are a number of ways to make sure that your deed, as well as your transaction, is valid.

1. Check with the Registry of Deeds if the original copy of the title certificate if filed with them.

2. Make sure that the copy you are holding is exactly the same as the original one filed with the Registry of Deeds, in that the owner’s duplicate copy should be a carbon copy of the original.

3. The signatures and initial on the original and the owner’s original duplicate copies should be exactly the same. The manner by which the entries were typed should also be the same, since any difference will be viewed as a discrepancy.

4. The judicial form used to make the title should bear the same serial number as the one that was forwarded by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Land Management Bureau (LMB) or by the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) or Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Officer (PENRO).

5. Check with the Registry of Deeds and see if the contract of sale or conveyance was recorded in their entry book on the same time and date indicated in the title.

6. If a title is based on patents, make sure that the areas covered are well within the area provided by law as well as by existing regulation. The land under the patent should also be in the jurisdiction of the DENR and DAR field office that issued the patent. If not, the patent will be considered null and void.

7. Test the red seal and the red printed words “Owner’s Duplicate” by slightly wetting them. In an authentic form, the seal and the words will not blot or stain.

8. Hold the title up against the light and see if it has an NLTDRA (National Land Title and Deeds Registration Administration) or LRA (Land Registration Authority) watermark. Also, official judicial forms use paper that is 50% chemical wood pulp and 50% cotton, while fake titles are usually printed on cartolina or other inferior material.

A property investment is a very big (and very costly) transaction, so make sure that you safeguard yourself against people who might try to cheat you. Be extra careful in checking property titles, and report fraudulent dealings to the LRA and other related government offices.

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