What is property fraud?
Property is usually the most valuable asset people own. It can be sold and mortgaged to raise money and can therefore be an attractive target for fraudsters. Most commonly fraudsters will try to steal the homeowner’s identity and sell or mortgage their property by pretending to be them. If it isn’t discovered promptly, the true property owner might find their property has been transferred or sold without their knowledge. Putting it right can be distressing, time-consuming and costly. Prevention is therefore always better than a cure.
Who is most at risk?
You are more at risk if your property:
- is rented out
- is empty, such as if the owner is abroad or in a care home
- is mortgage-free
- isn’t registered with Land Registry
How can you protect yourself?
- Ensure your property is registered so that if you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer a financial loss, you may be compensated. If your property isn’t registered then no compensation is payable. Find out about registering land
- Make sure your contact details are up-to-date so we can reach you easily. You can have up to three addresses on the register including an email address or an address abroad. If your details are not up to date, you may not receive our letters or emails if we need to contact you.
- Sign up for Land Registry’s free Property Alert service. We will send you an email alert when there is certain activity on a monitored property such as if someone tries to register a mortgage. You can monitor up to 10 properties and if you receive an alert, you can judge whether the activity is suspicious and seek further advice if necessary.
- Owners who feel their property might be at risk can have a restriction entered on their property. A restriction is intended to stop activity, such as a transfer or a mortgage, unless a conveyancer or solicitor confirms the application was made by you. There is no fee to home owners who do not live in the property they wish to protect. Request a restriction.
If you think you may be the victim of property fraud:
- Contact our property fraud line on 0300 006 7030 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact a legal professional such as a solicitor or Citizens Advice and Action Fraud (actionfraud.police.uk)
The Land Registry’s property fraud leaflet is available here: PropertyFraud_Alert_leaflet Feb 2016 FINAL