We have all heard of the term ‘identity fraud’ but what should you do if your home has been fraudulently sold or had the deeds transferred to someone else without your knowledge?
Home identity fraud is becoming increasingly regular and the Land Registry are now being called upon to carry out tougher security checks before making changes to housing deeds.
So who is most at risk and how can you protect yourself against this? Homeowners who have paid off their mortgages are more susceptible to scams of this nature as no additional authority is needed by the lender to confirm the change of ownership.
You are more at risk if:
- your identity’s been stolen
- you rent out your property
- you live overseas
- the property is empty
- the property isn’t registered with Land Registry
How to protect against fraud
- Make sure your property is registered with Land Registry.
- Ensure your contact details are up-to-date with Land Registry (you can have up to three addresses).
- Any confidential documents should be shredded before being thrown away.
- File all bills and bank statements away in a secure place.
- Do not disclose any sensitive security or bank details over the phone. A bank will never ask you to confirm your PIN or password, if you receive a call claiming to be from your bank, call them back on their publicly listed number.
- Check your statements carefully for any suspicious transactions.
The Land Registry offer a free Property Alert Service, notifying homeowners if the register of their property is changed. Restrictions can also be applied to title deeds where a sale or mortgage can only be processed if a conveyancer or solicitor certifies the application was made by the homeowner.
If you think you may have been a victim of property fraud, contact the Land Registry property fraud line on 0300 006 7030 or send them an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scam and rogue trader complaints should be reported to Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 4040 506.