02 Feb Property fraud & how to protect yourself
Firstly what is property fraud?
Property is likely to be the most valuable asset you will ever own. It can be sold and mortgaged to raise money and so can be an attractive target for fraudsters. Usually it will start by them stealing your identity then they mortgage or sell the property whilst pretending to be you. If it isn’t discovered quickly, you might find your property has been transferred or sold without your knowledge. Fixing the mess and getting any mortgage taken off your register can be distressing, time-consuming and costly.
Am I at risk?
You are most at risk if your property:
- Is rented out
- Is empty, e.g. if you are abroad or in a care home
- Is mortgage free
- Isn’t registered with Land Registry
Thankfully this type of fraud is quite rare, but if you are the unlucky victim it can have devastating effects. So prevention is far better than cure.
Steps to take:
- Make sure that the property is registered with Land Registry. Your conveyancer/solicitor would have done this when you bought the property, but if you have owned it for many years or inherited the property it may not be registered. You do need to make sure that you keep your contact details up to date. More info here.
- Sign up for the free Property Alert Service with Land Registry. You will then receive an email alert when there is activity on the property, e.g. if someone tries to take out a mortgage on it.
- You can have a restriction entered against your property. A restriction is intended to stop activity on your property, such as a transfer or a mortgage, unless a conveyancer or solicitor confirms the application was made by you. There is no fee for home owners to register this restriction as long as they do not live in the property they wish to protect. Request a restriction.