Sadly we often know someone who’s been the victim of a burglary and had their car snatched from their driveway or had jewellery taken from their home. But have you ever heard about an entire property being stolen? This is exactly what happened to a homeowner in Bedfordshire, who, after working in Wales, returned to find that his home had been sold off in an identity scam. False ID documents were used to sell his house to a third party, who then registered their ownership of the property at the Land Registry.
According to the Land Registry’s annual report for 2020/21, it received 22 claims for fraud, valued at £5,055,978, and £3,500,000 was paid out in compensation for fraud, all of which represent an increase on the previous year. Whilst claims for fraud remain low, fraudulent property transactions are unfortunately on the increase. You are more at risk of your property being fraudulently sold or mortgaged if:
- your identity has been stolen
- you rent out your property
- you live in a care home or overseas
- the property is empty
- the property is not mortgaged
- the property is not registered at the Land Registry
If you think you are at risk of property fraud, there are a few options available to you to try to minimise the risk:
- make sure your property is registered at the Land Registry. If you become an innocent victim of fraud or suffer financial loss in relation to a registered property, you may be able to claim compensation.
- sign up to the free Land Registry Property Alert service. This allows you to monitor a registered property and receive email alerts when there is certain activity on the property you are monitoring. Whilst this system will not prevent fraud from happening, it will at least enable you to act quickly if you are alerted to suspicious activity and potentially prevent a fraudulent transaction from being registered.
- keep your contact details up to date.
- put a restriction on your title to prevent the Land Registry from registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a solicitor certifies that the application was made by you.