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How to protect your property from fraud

Mary Groves

There have been a number of high profile cases in the Courts recently concerning property frauds where fraudsters posing as the owners of empty properties have succeeded in “selling” the property and have disappeared with the proceeds of sale.

But, fraudsters can also “steal” your identity to take out a mortgage on your property without your knowledge.

What is property fraud?

Here’s a short video from the land registry that explains the problem:

Although the ownership of most residential properties is registered at Land Registry, this does not automatically safeguard all properties from potential fraud.

Your property is particularly at risk of fraud if you rent out your property, you live overseas or the property is left empty.

There are steps that you can take to try to stop any potential fraud:

  1. Keep your property ownership details up-to-date

    You can keep the ownership details on the land registry title register up to date by letting them have up to three alternative addresses for service of documents which can include email and an overseas address.

  2. Use the Land Registry’s free monitoring service

    The land registry also have an award winning monitoring service called “Property Alert” which will notify you by email if there has been certain activity in connection with the register of the property.

    You can monitor up to 10 properties and all you need is a valid email address & the postcode or title number of the property(ies) you’d like to monitor.

    If you receive notifications you can check to see if the activity is genuine.

    Sign up to the property alert service here https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk

What can you do if you think you’ve been a victim of property fraud?

If you see anything suspicious, you can take steps to prevent any further action:

Following this advice may prevent someone either selling or taking out a mortgage on your property without your knowledge.

W Davies can help

Here at W Davies, we are very much aware of these potential dangers and we take checking the identity of our clients very seriously.

We ask our clients to complete ID checks right at the very start of a transaction to make sure that we know who we’re acting for and to comply with anti-money laundering requirements.

Our presence in Woking town centre means that this ID checking process is easy for you. Pop in anytime and our reception staff will be able to assist – you don’t even need to make an appointment.

Useful links

Land Registry’s Property Alert Service

Government advice on protecting your property from fraud

Further reading