Help! Fraudsters Sold My House!February 13, 2018 2:21 pm
We’ve sent this article to clients in the past, but we think it’s time for this issue to be given another airing.
A nightmare scenario – property owners find that their property has been sold without their knowledge. How can this happen, and what can you do to protect yourself from it?
Fraudsters try many different ways to profit from property or mortgage fraud, and may try to pose as owners of a property in order to sell that property to an unsuspecting buyer. They will then disappear with the sale proceeds leaving behind a very difficult situation for the property owner and the buyer. There are other similarly horrifying scenarios.
Solicitors, the Land Registry and mortgage lenders have in place extremely tight procedures to guard against property fraud, but there will always be a small number of cases where fraudsters are successful. Certain properties are more vulnerable to fraud, for example where the owners live away for long periods, or properties without a mortgage.
There are ways in which you can increase your protection against this sort of fraud and the government has produced a useful guide setting out the steps you should take at https://www.gov.uk/protect-land-property-from-fraud
A particularly useful service is the Land Registry’s Property Alerts’ scheme. You can sign up for up to ten properties, and you will then receive notifications if anyone tries to deal with the property at Land Registry. Further information is available here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/property-alert-service-proves-popular-in-the-fight-against-property-fraud
The Land Registry’s website sets out detailed accounts of property fraud, and will encourage most people to take some sort of action to protect themselves.
Land Registry also publishes a useful series of Public Guides, and Public Guide 2 available from the Land Registry’s website explains how to keep your address for service up to date.