Top Tips to Keep Your Home Out of the Grubby Hands of Fraudsters.
- AuthorPaul Hajek
Fraudsters, or rather cowardly criminals who prey on the vulnerable, have been at it again.
Reports in various newspapers and online have shown marked increases in property identity theft.
If you are an absentee owner of property in England and Wales, you could be vulnerable to identity theft of ownership of your property.
There are three high risk areas:
1. Mortgage free property: here the fraudsters steal your identity or impersonate you and create a new mortgage on your property. And yes, you've guessed it the first you would get to hear about it is a threatening letter from a the mortgage company asking why you have missed several payments.
2. Vacant property: owners who may live abroad; elderly people who have vacated their homes out of necessity and are living in long term care or in hospital.
3. Tenanted Property: where tenants masquerade as you by pretending to be you and attempt to forge documents purporting to be you.
How to Fight Back and Protect Yourself:
The Land Registry, the government department responsible for registering title to property in England and Wales, has given some comfort to home owners by announcing a raft of counter measures to make it much more difficult to be a victim of property crime.
3 Top Tips to Stay One Step Ahead of the Fraudsters:
1. Make Sure Your Property is Registered at the Land Registry:
Keeping your deeds under the bed may not prevent someone claiming to own your property.
If you have bought property in the last 30 years or so (longer in some parts of the country), your property will already be registered.
You can also voluntarily register your property at the Land Registry - your Conveyancing Solicitor can help you with registration.
The major benefit of registering your property is that where you have been the innocent victim of fraud and suffer financial loss as a consequence, you will be compensated by the Land Registry.
2. Once Registered Keep Your Correspondence Address Up To Date.
Any attempt to alter the Land Registry documents to your property will require initial contact with you at your last known correspondence address. If you are no longer living at the property, it makes letters from the Land Registry easier to intercept.
The Land Registry has recently allowed more than one address to placed on your property register so you can now include an email address and also a foreign address if applicable.
3. Belt and Braces: Put a Restriction on Your Title at the Land Registry
The Land Registry is to be applauded for recently introducing a further security measure.
You can now ask for a restriction to be placed on your title, which will require your Conveyancing Solicitor to certify that the person selling or mortgaging your property is actually you, the true owner.
The good news for foreign owners or owners not currently residing at the property is that the cost as of 1st February 2012 is nil - The Land Registry has waived its fee.
Even for owner occupiers where a fee will still be payable to the Land Registry, it should be regarded as a price worth paying for such convenience and peace of mind.
At Clutton Cox we have introduced a special low cost fixed fee service to register the restriction on your behalf - so you too can fight back against the fraudsters and live in your property without fear of fraud.
Contact us for more information before 31st May 2012 to benefit from our special introductory fee.