Criminals are using increasingly sophisticated ways to commit property fraud, sparking a warning to homeowners and buyers to make sure they don’t fall victim. Let’s take a look at what you can do to protect yourself.
What is property fraud?
Property fraud occurs when someone gains ownership of property illegally. Thieves then sell or remortgage the property and pocket the cash. Property fraud can be committed in many ways. It can occur when a criminal impersonates someone involved in the property transaction, such as the owner, borrower, conveyancer or lender. Con artists may use false IDs and documents to carry out title fraud, which involves changing the property title from the owner’s name to theirs.
People who rent out a property, live overseas, are mortgage-free or are victims of identity theft are most susceptible. Figures show property scams cost victims an average of £107,669.
Property fraud can be simple to commit; however, there are simple steps you can take against it:
1. Ensure your property is registered with HM Land Registry and that all your details are up to date. Sign up for the free property alerts to be notified of any application or search involving your property. If your property is not registered at HM Land Registry and you are a victim of property fraud, compensation is harder to obtain.
2. Apply for a restriction on the title deeds, which means no sale or mortgage can go through on your property until your solicitor confirms it was requested by you.
If you are looking for conveyancing Hemel Hempstead, you will find lots of options. The person carrying out your conveyancing Hemel Hempstead or otherwise can assist you in contacting HM Land Registry to put the restriction in place.
3. Check your conveyancer is using Lawyer Checker, which enables solicitors to verify the contact details and bank account details of other solicitors.
4. Protect your email from hackers. This is a common way to fall victim to property fraud, with criminals intercepting emails between a solicitor and a buyer or seller. Check the bank details by cross-checking the details confirmed by email or post, and check any changes to bank details. Make sure your emails are watertight by using robust passwords and avoiding public wi-fi.
5. Remember that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.