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New mortgage fraud scheme to be launched

New mortgage fraud scheme to be launched

Category: Banking

Updated: 30/08/2011
First Published: 30/08/2011

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.
Mortgage lenders will be able to call on help from HM Treasury & Customs (HMRC) if they suspect that mortgage fraud may be taking place.

It is estimated that mortgage fraud cost the industry some £1 billion last year.

HMRC, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) and the Building Societies Association (BSA) have been working on a pilot scheme since March last year and the Mortgage Verification Scheme will now be rolled out from 1 September.

From that date, lenders that suspect foul play after making their own rigorous checks will send relevant details of mortgage applications where they have inadequate evidence of declared income and suspect fraud to HMRC.

Details declared to lenders will be checked against information provided in income tax and employment returns.

HMRC will then advise lenders whether or not the details correspond, which will inform lending decisions.

As well as aiding mortgage fraud prevention, the scheme will help HMRC to risk assess whether the information it has been given on applicants' tax affairs is correct.

In return, lenders will gain access to a source of data that helps them to lend responsibly and manage risk.

It is not thought that the new process will noticeably slow decisions on lending, while lenders will only incur a negligible charge for using the service

"Lenders have found during the pilot that the scheme has been very useful in helping them to lend responsibly," said Paul Smee, director general of the CML.

"It has helped them to avoid lending in some cases where there is a risk of fraud, at the same time as giving them confidence about the borrower's credentials in some cases that they might otherwise have felt compelled to refuse."

BSA director general Adrian Coles said that mortgage fraud costs consumers and the mortgage industry and that the scheme would benefit both.

"This scheme is an excellent example of HMRC working proactively with business to provide a valuable service which could significantly decrease mortgage fraud and give an additional check to bolster responsible lending," he added.

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