Did you know that your home can be stolen from you, even while you are still living in it? It sounds impossible, but that is exactly what happened to an unfortunate homeowner when a fraudster changed the deeds of ownership without her knowing. The resulting news article brought to light a crime not many know is possible.
It is becoming more important to be aware of the risks faced by homeowners with this relatively unknown type of crime. The so-called ‘property title fraud’ is not new, however, reports of the crime are on the increase. In the year to April 2017, victims lost £24.9 million to this type of scam — up from £7.2 million in 2013, according to the Land Registry1.
How does this happen?
Potential fraudsters will use forged documents to transfer the ownership of a property into their own name, or in some cases impersonate the owner.
This is made easier, with the fact that all information held with the Land Registry on the ownership of a property is available to the public. To view at any time. You don’t have to be the owner of a property to access important information about the ownership of your home along with names and addresses.
Who is at risk?
On the government website, they offer advice on how to protect your land and property from fraud 2. It notes those more at risk if:
- your identity has been stolen
- you rent out your property
- you live overseas
- the property is empty
- the property isn’t mortgaged
- the property isn’t registered with HM Land Registry
These risk factors are particularly relevant to many of our clients.
What can I do to protect myself?
There is a way you can remain vigilant to this sort of crime and be alerted if someone tried to change details to the ownership of your property using the free HM Land Registry Alert Service.
Using this service, you can monitor up to 10 properties for free.