Homeowners have been urged to protect themselves from fraudsters by making sure their property is registered with the Land Registry.
Property fraud happens in many ways, but typically a fraudster will impersonate a homeowner and forge documents to try to persuade the Land Registry to transfer the title of the property into their name.
They then use the property to raise a mortgage from a bank or building society – and disappear with the money, leaving the rightful owner to deal with the consequences.According to the Land Registry, properties most at risk of being targeted by fraudsters are usually empty, tenanted or mortgage-free.
But a simple way to protect your home from property fraud is to register it with the Land Registry and make sure your contact details are always kept up to date. This means that if any fraud attempt is made on your property, the Land Registry will be able to contact you immediately.
Additionally, if your details are registered and you become an innocent victim of fraud you may be compensated.
Also any owner not living in the property and who doesn't intend to live in the property can apply for a RQ restriction from the Land Registry free of charge.
The RQ restriction is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring a conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person transferring or mortgaging the property is the same person as the owner
For those homeowners who believe they have been the victims of property fraud, a helpline was set up in February to offer invaluable help. The telephone number is 0300 006 7030 and lines are open from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
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