PROTECTING AGAINST PROPERTY FRAUD

There is an alarming rise in property fraud to which every property owner is vulnerable. Fraudsters are establishing more sophisticated schemes to carry out such criminal activities and those properties that are either vacant, tenanted, being refurbished or mortgage free are considered to be most at risk.

Unfortunately, information held with the Land Registry is available to view by anyone through the Land Registry website making it an open playing field for fraudsters.

As a firm, we have in place stringent measures to guard against property fraud but other steps which you can take to safe guard your property interests are:

  • Ensuring that the “address for service” set out on your registered title is correct and up to date. If it is not, then the Land Registry will not be able to contact you to notify you of any activities taking place that affect the registered title to the property and you could miss the opportunity to take action early on.
  • Signing up to the Land Registry “Property Alert Service” which is available on the Land Registry website. This service would allow you as the property owner to track changes to the property title register(s) and request property alerts if someone applies to change the register of the property, for example if someone tries to register a mortgage against the property. This is a free service provided by the Land Registry and is aimed at anyone who feels a registered property could be at risk from fraud. Please note: this service will not automatically block any changes to the register, but it will alert you to such changes to provide you with the opportunity to take action. At present you can get alerts for up to 10 properties.
  • Applying to the Land Registry to put a restriction on your title to the property to stop the Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage of your property unless a conveyancer or solicitor certifies the application was made by you.

As you may also be aware from recent press coverage solicitors have unfortunately become the target of criminals intercepting emails between solicitors and clients in an attempt to direct monies to fraudsters’ bank accounts. Please note: our firm would never inform you of any change to our account details by email and if you receive any request by email to make a payment to our firm then we would advise that you call out office to check the account details before funds are sent (particularly if you are not expecting to make the payment).

You can be assured that our firm has protections in place to guard against property fraud and ensure that all client account details are safe-guarded and checked thoroughly before any monies are sent out of the office and if you have any concerns please so not hesitate to contact one of our team.