Property fraud is where fraudsters try to “steal” your property, most commonly by pretending to be you and selling or mortgaging your property without your knowledge. This is such a nightmare scenario as your property is your most valuable asset, which is why fraudsters target it.
Properties that are more vulnerable to fraud are:
- Mortgage free properties
- Tenanted properties
- Empty properties
- If the owner lives overseas
- Where the owner has died and the property is held in trust
Fraudster’s can attempt to acquire ownership by stealing an owner’s identity by using a forged document or impersonating the registered owner. Once they have raised money by mortgaging the property without the owner’s knowledge, they disappear without making repayments leaving the owner to deal with the consequences.
You should register your property with the Land Registry if it isn’t already. If you bought or remortgaged your property after 1998 then it should be registered, but it’s important to check the register.
So how can I protect myself from property fraud?
Many property owners will not know that information held with the Land Registry is available to view by anyone through the Land Registry website. Unfortunately, this includes fraudsters, who can easily find out who owns a property, their correspondence address, lender details and even samples of their signature. So, make sure the Land Registry can contact you with any changes.
Up to Date Information
It’s important to make sure the Land Registry has all the correct contact information for you. Make sure they can contact you wherever you live. This is because they may need to write to you when they receive an application regarding your property. If they don’t have an up-to-date contact address for you, you may not receive important information from them.
Also make sure you sign up for the Land Registry Property Alert Service.
Did you know you can sign up to Property Alert with the Land Registry, this is a free service and you can choose up to 10 properties to monitor. It will notify you if anyone attempts to change the legal title or other activities.
- monitor a property if it’s already registered with HM Land Registry
- monitor the property of a relative; you don’t have to own a property to set up an alert
- choose up to 10 properties to monitor
You will receive email alerts when there is certain activity on the properties you are monitoring.
Watch the 3-minute video below to find out more about how to protect your property from fraudsters.