Protect yourself from the risk of property fraud
With property fraud significantly on the increase, experts are warning that your house or home address is now the perfect tool for scammers to commit a wide range of crimes.
According to The Telegraph, 279 property fraud scams have been prevented by Land Registry, totalling a worth of £133m.
What is property fraud?
Property fraud is whereby fraudsters acquire ownership of a property either by using forged documents or by impersonating the registered owner.
Unfortunately many homeowners are unaware that their details, including some signature samples, are available for anyone to view through the Land Registry website.
So if you are a property owner, you should now consider yourself to be a risk target. Unfortunately it can happen to anyone, no matter what their property-owned status.
What can I do to protect my property?
There are a couple of ways in which you can protect your property from a property scam attack;
Set up an anti-property fraud restriction
The safest way to protect your property is to ask a solicitor to apply for a restriction to be placed, in order to block any register changes with Land Registry. This means that a solicitor must certify that an application has been made by you, before Land Registry can register a sale or mortgage against the property.
Free Property Alert Service
HM Land Registry has developed an Anti-fraud Property Alert Service to monitor any fraudulent activity on your property – and it’s free!
Once you have registered on the service, you will receive email alerts on your monitored property, allowing you to take action if necessary.
Of course, signing up does not mean you are protected against property fraud. If you get an alert, you will need to make a decision as to whether you need to take action and take action quickly. The alert will tell you who to contact.
Important things to know about the Property Alert Service
- The property you wish to be monitored must be in England or Wales and registered with Land Registry
- You will need to set up an account
- You will receive an email from HM Land Registry to verify your email address
- An email alert is sent when official searches and applications are received against your property
- If you believe the activity to be suspicious you must take swift action – the email will signpost who to contact
- The property can be monitored by different people
- You can register a ‘Leasehold’ property, as well as a ‘Freehold’ title.
To register, or to find out more information, visit the HM Land Registry website: propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk or phone 0300 006 0478.
We are here to help you
If you believe yourself to be a victim of property fraud, or you wish to get advice on how to protect yourself against property fraud, our specialist team of Conveyancing Solicitors are on hand to help you. Please call us on 01525 378177 or contact us online.