Property fraud can happen to anyone in many ways. Properties that are either vacant, tenanted, being refurbished or mortgage free are considered more vulnerable to fraud, as well as mortgage free properties, but those with mortgages are still targeted. Fraudsters may attempt to acquire ownership of a property either by using a forged document to transfer it into their own name, or by impersonating the registered owner.
Many homeowners will be unaware 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.
What can I do to protect my property?
There are a couple of very simple measures which are recommended by both the Land Registry and Action Fraud that you can take to safeguard your property:
Register an Anti-Fraud Restriction on your property title
The best option available which will block any changes to your register is where an Anti-Fraud Restriction is registered with the Land Registry to reduce the risk of property fraud. This means you can stop Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a solicitor or conveyancer certifies the application was made by you. Having a restriction also serves as a 'burglar alarm', deterring fraudsters when they are searching for properties to target.
Foxtons has taken the steps to secure the services of a specialist firm to provide the Anti-Fraud Restriction service to our customers.
To find out more please call Conveyan on 03333 22 44 33.
Anti-fraud property alerts from Land Registry
If your property is registered with Land Registry you also can now sign up to their free property monitoring service. This means if someone applies to change the register of your property or if certain activities occur on your monitored property, you will receive an email alert. It is important to note this option will not automatically block any changes made to the register but will alert you allowing you to take any necessary action. However, it could be a retrospective action if there is a delay in attending to the alert communication.
More information can be found at the Land Registry website
If you find yourself the victim of vendor fraud, taking legal action to recover your losses can be a complex, timely and expensive process, therefore prevention may turn out to be the best cure.