Property fraud is sadly on the rise, and as your property is probably the most valuable asset you own, it’s more important than ever to protect it from the increased risks.
It appears that the change to electronic land registry, rather than Deeds, has potentially increased the opportunity for criminals to sell other people’s properties or raise finance against them. Therefore, it is now possible for fraudsters to target your property, and metaphorically “steal” your home, by taking the legal title. The most common way people are being targeted by the scam, is by fraudsters pretending to be the home owner, and selling or mortgaging the property, which does not belong to them.
The risk of fraud is increased greatly if your property is empty, or has been bought to let. Having no mortgage or spending time abroad, leaving the property absent of your presence is also an indicator for fraudsters, and you could be targeted.
You can help make sure you do not become a victim of property fraud, by ensuring your property is registered and all details are correct. You can also request for restrictions to be placed on the property to prevent forgery, and make sure your property is correctly registered. Roughly 20 per cent of land in England and Wales remains unregistered, but by registering your property, if you do become an innocent victim of fraud, you should be compensated for your financial loss.
If you think you have already become a victim of property fraud you should contact a solicitor or a Citizens Advice Bureau. Make sure you receive professional advice and act as soon as you can, the sooner you report the suspicion of fraud, the sooner it can be dealt with.
Image sourced from Ben Salter