How to Protect From Property Fraud
Posted on 4th March 2020
When we discuss fraud, we often think of credit card cloning and impersonating identity, however, MG Legal’s conveyancing solicitors are here to advise why property fraud should be equally considered and protected against.
Property fraud involves fraudsters illegally impersonating an individual, and carrying on property dealings using their identity. Properties that are most vulnerable to property fraud include those that are vacant, mortgage free and unregistered at the Land Registry. This is because there are fewer dealings with the property, which provide opportunist fraudsters with a window to muscle in and impersonate the true legal owner.
Property is, in many cases, one of the largest assets many of our valued clients own, therefore, taking the necessary steps to protect the same are essential. Our conveyancing solicitors outline, below, just some of the ways you can endeavour to protect your home.
1. Is the property Registered at the Land Registry?
Unregistered properties have been found to be particularly vulnerable to property fraud, as the Land Registry do not hold any records or data about them. If, therefore, your property is currently not registered at the Land Registry, contact our conveyancing solicitors today, whom can assist you in carrying out a voluntary registration of the property. For more information on the registration process, read our team's blog, here.
If your property is registered, and is subject to property fraud, the Land Registry have an indemnity in place which indemnifies those whom have been victim to fraud, that has resulted in financial loss. Over the last ten years, the Land Registry have paid out over £50 million pounds to those who have suffered loss. As you can see, this does not provide protection against the fraud itself, but does provide an indemnity in the event that same should occur and result in financial loss. This scheme does, however, only apply to registered properties. Our team would, therefore, recommend checking whether your property is currently registered and, where unregistered, attending to the same as soon as possible.
2. Are the details held by the Land Registry accurate and correct?
You should ensure the details held at the land registry are accurate and correct, inclusive of your name and address. Where, for example, you marry or voluntarily change your name, you should endeavour to notify the Land Registry, as is the case should your address change.
If, therefore, the Land Registry need to contact you, for example where a suspicion of property fraud has arisen, they will not experience any issues in making contact. This is particularly important where you own a property, however, are not resident at the same. The Land Registry, within their registration documentation, provide for an ‘address for service’ option, which gives the opportunity to provide guidance on the best method to contact you, should the need arise.
The Land Registry would not contact you over minor matters, or for any other reason than those that relate to your property. It is, therefore, important to ensure that, should the Land Registry need to contact you, they are able to do so.
Whilst it is your own duty to ensure that the details held by the Land Registry are correct, our conveyancing solicitors can assist you in amending the records held, where necessary.
3. Are you signed up to the Land Registry Alert Service?
The Land Registry offers an alert service which allows users to sign up and subscribe to receive updates about particular properties. Users can register to monitor up to ten properties and receive email correspondence, should any significant applications to change the register arise. This is easy to set up and will alert those monitoring a certain property, as to any applications that are made to change the title register to the property. This would include notifying users of any charges being registered against the title, or the attempt to change ownership of the title, for example. If, therefore, the alert reveals anything suspicious, you can act accordingly, and quickly, before any application is finalised and your property a victim to fraud.
4. Are you aware of whom to report suspicious activity to?
As well as the obvious need to report suspicions to the police for investigation, the Land Registry may also be a port of call in reporting to. The Land Registry’s aim is to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the information they hold within their title registers. They have, therefore, formed a specific fraud line that can be used to contact in the event that there is a suspicion of fraud, in order that the appropriate course of action can be taken. They also have a specific email service which can be used to report to, by contacting: email@example.com.
In addition, for those whom wish to be extra vigilant, there is a further option to provide added protection. You may ask your conveyancing solicitor to apply for a restriction to be registered against the title to the property. Such restrictions can require a conveyancer to specifically confirm that the individual making an application to change the register of title, such as registering a re-mortgage, or a change in ownership of the same, has, indeed, come from the true registered owner.
This provides an added layer of protection for those who wish to take extra precautions, as would require the conveyancer to carry out additional checks, in order to satisfy the restriction. The Land Registry would not affect any disposition of the property, without confirmation of compliance with the restriction.
Should this be something you are interested in, and would like more advice on, in order to protect your property, contact MG Legal’s solicitors in Preston today. Our team of conveyancing solicitors are able to draft such restrictions and have the same registered at the Land Registry, for your protection.
If you believe your property may be potentially vulnerable to fraud, contact our team of conveyancing solicitors today, to discuss what course of action may be necessary to adequately protect you. Our solicitors in Preston are on hand to assist, with out of hours appointments and friendly, approachable advice. For more information on the above, or assistance with any other conveyancing query, get in touch today, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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