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Fraud and Risk Focus Blog

Property fraud: Prevention is better than the cure

6 December 2016

This week, the Land Registry announced that over 50,000 people have signed up to its Property Alert service. Counter Fraud Senior Executive Lynne Feddon from the Land Registry tells us more about property fraud and how homeowners can protect themselves.

Protect yourself from property fraud

As a member of Land Registry’s Counter Fraud Group, I see a range of property frauds being attempted against homeowners. When fraudsters succeed, the consequences can be devastating for the victims. That’s why I’m keen to make property owners aware of what they can do to reduce the risk of becoming a victim.

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. 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 to someone else or sold without their knowledge. Putting it right can be distressing, time-consuming and costly. Prevention is therefore better than 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?

  • 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. If you receive an alert, you can judge whether the activity is suspicious and seek further advice if necessary. We recently hit the milestone of over 50,000 people signing up for the Property Alert service.
  • We also have a range of other advice which can be found on our website. This includes ensuring your property is registered with Land Registry and making sure your contact details are up-to-date so we can reach you easily. 

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 reportafraud@landregistry.gov.uk.

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