Property fraud occurs when fraudsters sell or mortgage your property without your consent.
Ensure your property is registered with HM Land Registry.
Property is usually the most valuable asset you own and can be sold and mortgaged to raise money. It is therefore an attractive target for fraudsters, who may steal your identity first and then pretend to be you to carry out the fraud. If it is not discovered promptly, you as the true owner might find your property is no longer in your name or has a mortgage against it. Resolving the problem and getting any mortgage removed can be distressing, time-consuming and costly.
You are more at risk if:
· Your identity has been stolen
· You rent out your property
· You live overseas
· The property is empty
· The property is not mortgaged
· The property is not registered* with HM Land Registry**
* Your property will be registered if you bought it or mortgaged it since 1998 - check the register if you are unsure.
** HM Land Registry registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales.
Guard against property fraud
· Ensure your property is registered with HM Land Registry. If you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer a financial loss, you may be compensated. If your property is not registered, no compensation is payable.
· Once registered, keep your contact details up-to-date so you can be reached. You can register up to three addresses including an email and overseas address. If your details are not up-to-date, you may not receive HM Land Registry's letter or email if they try to contact you.
· Sign up to HM Land Registry’s free Property Alert service to monitor up to ten properties and help guard against fraud. They will send you an email alert when there is certain activity, for example if someone tries to take out a mortgage. You can then judge whether the activity is suspicious and seek further advice if you need to.
· Register a restriction (free if you do not live at the property) intended to stop activity such as a transfer or mortgage unless a conveyancer or solicitor confirms it was made by you.
For more information and advice, visit HM Land Registry’s website by clicking here.
If you think you are a victim of property fraud
Contact HM Land Registry’s property fraud line by emailing [email protected] or telephone 0300 006 7030 Monday to Friday 08:30 am to 5.00 pm.
You can also:
· Get advice from Citizens Advice Bureau or an independent legal adviser
· Report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, contact Police Scotland on 101.
This advice has been compiled with the kind assistance of HM Land Registry.