Worryingly, more and more homeowners are falling victim of property fraud. As July is ‘Scams Awareness Month’, we take a look at property fraud; how the fraudsters are doing it and how you can protect yourself.
What is property fraud?
Property fraud is when a homeowner’s identity is stolen in order for a fraudster to sell or re-mortgage their property.
This type of fraud can have devastating and long-lasting consequences for the actual homeowner but there are measures homeowners can put in place to prevent this type of fraud happening to them.
Who is most at risk of property fraud?
Homeowners in the following situations are more at risk of being victims of property fraud;
- Your property is rented out
- Your property is standing empty
- Your property is mortgage free
- Your property isn’t registered with HM Land Registry
How can you prevent property fraud?
There are preventative actions you can take to avoid being a victim of property fraud.
The first and most important is to make sure your property is registered with HM Land Registry. Not only will this make it harder for you to become a victim but will also offer you compensation if the worst happens.
If your property is not registered, meaning you don’t have title deeds and someone does sell your property fraudulently, you will not be eligible for any compensation pay out. Registering your property is simple to do and is highly advisable.
Once registered, it’s important to make sure your contact details are up to date, especially if you don’t reside at the property. You can actually register up to three addresses on your record, these include email details and foreign addresses. Every time you move, it is important to update this information.
You can also sign up to HM Land Registry’s free property alert service, which makes homeowners aware of any suspicious activity associated to their property i.e. you will receive an alert if someone tries to take out a mortgage against your property.
Finally, homeowners who don’t reside in their property can apply for a restriction. This will stop any activity occurring against the property unless a conveyancer or solicitor confirms this request was made by you.
What to do if you think you are a victim of property fraud…
If you think you might be a victim of property fraud, it’s vital you contact HM Land Registry, who run a dedicated property fraud line 0300 006 7030