July is Scams Awareness Month in the UK, and property fraud is top on the agenda.

Property fraud can take numerous guises, for example when:

  1. someone tries to sell your property;
  2. someone tries to transfer your property into their own name; or
  3. you are due to purchase or sell a property, the funds can be intercepted or someone asks you to transfer the funds to them instead of your conveyancer.

Those most at risk of property fraud are where their property is:

  1. empty;
  2. tenanted (the tenant may pose as the owner of the property);
  3. mortgage free (as this would be easier to transfer into a different name); and
  4. the subject of a family dispute.

To protect you and your property from this risk, you should:

  1. ensure your property is correctly registered at HM Land Registry, and registered with up-to date details;
  2. sign up to property email alerts with HM Land Registry so you will know if someone applies to change your registered title;
  3. enter a ‘fraud prevention restriction’ on the property’s registered title. This restriction will stop anyone from selling or mortgaging your property unless a conveyancer certifies the application was made by you;
  4. choose your conveyancer or solicitor carefully when you are buying or selling your property; and
  5. always confirm your bank details by telephone with the conveyancer acting, and likewise confirm their bank details over the telephone if you’re in the process of buying or selling a property.

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