People are increasingly falling victim to property fraud because the tactics fraudsters use are much more sophisticated. Fraudsters are targeting properties by pretending to be you so they can try and sell or mortgage your property.
The Land Registry advise that you are more at risk if your property is one of the following:
Not Mortgaged, Tenanted, Empty, Unregistered with Land Registry
Over the last 10 years around £55 million has been paid out under the Land Registry indemnity scheme because of forgeries.
In order to try and protect yourself, here are a few things you should do.
You should make sure that your property is registered at HM Land Registry. Your property will be registered if you bought it or mortgaged it since 1998. If you are unsure, you can check with the Land Registry who will be able to confirm whether it is registered. If your property is registered and are a victim of property fraud where you suffer financial loss, you will be compensated through the Land Registry indemnity scheme. You must then keep your contact details up to date with Land Registry. You can include an email address or an address abroad. Keeping contact details up to date is particularly important if you do not live at the property and have moved addresses since the purchase.
Sign up to the Land Registry Property Alert Service www.gov.uk/property-alert
Once you have signed up to this service the Land Registry will notify you of certain applications affecting the property you are monitoring. You will receive a notification for example for a new mortgage or change of ownership. You can monitor up to 10 registered properties in England and Wales.
If you feel that your property is particularly at risk from fraud, then you can apply for a restriction to be placed on your property designed to help prevent forgery. The restriction prevents the Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a conveyancer or solicitor certifies the application was made by you.