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How to protect your property from fraud

Alarms, CCTV, video doorbells – home security is big business. But the biggest threat could be happening under the radar of all your high-tech defence systems.

What are we talking about? Property fraud.

A serious – and growing – problem in the UK, estimated to be costing millions of pounds each year.

With savvy scammers on the lookout for vulnerable properties, all the CCTV in the world isn’t going to help. So the question is, what will? How can you protect yourself and your property?

What is property fraud?

Property fraud is when an impostor takes on the role of a key person involved in a property transaction. This is usually the owner, but they can pretend to be anyone involved in the process – including the lender or conveyancer.

By assuming this role, they then deceive other parties, and – if successful – are able to sell or mortgage property to get their hands on money.

 

What type of properties are vulnerable?

  • Vacant property – do you live aboard and keep an empty base for return visits? Are you likely to be in hospital for an extended period? Whatever the reason no one’s home, be on guard. Empty property shouts opportunity to a scammer.
  • Mortgage-free – with no mortgage to complicate matters, the path to swindling money is made simpler.
  • High-value property – property that’s at the higher end of the market is naturally more attractive to would-be fraudsters, with money to be made.
  • Rental – it’s not just homeowners and landlords that need to be wary, the rental market is also vulnerable to fraud.

 

How can you protect your property?

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to become a victim of property fraud but there are steps you can take to safeguard your home:

 

Check the Land Register

Make sure your property is registered with the HM Land Registry – and that the name and address are up to date and correct. Failure to do this means you could miss out on important official notices.

As an extra security measure, you can also sign up to receive free email alerts from the Land Registry. This means you’ll get an automatic notification if anything changes on your account and is a great way to keep a check on things.

 

Put restrictions in place

You can add to this protection by putting a restriction on your title. This prevents the Land Registry from registering a sale or mortgage against your home without a conveyancer or solicitor first verifying that the application was made by you.

If you live in the property, this extra measure will set you back £40, but in the grand scheme of what’s at stake, it’s money well spent.

 

Don’t ignore the basics

There are a number of simple security measures that can really harden your defences against scammers. Such as…

  • To increase security and keep all your personal data protected, it’s important to keep passwords unique and change them frequently.

 

  • Be careful who you’re sharing your information and bank details with. If in doubt, don’t give them out!

 

  • Bills, bank statements, any documents with your address and personal details listed, need to be carefully disposed of. Shred, cut into tiny pieces, stick them in the fire, however you do it, just make sure they don’t go straight in your bin.

 

  • If you don’t live at the property, make sure you (or a trusted neighbour) regularly check and remove the post. A pile of unopened utility bills is gold dust to a fraudster. If your post box is outside, try to empty it quickly and don’t leave post hanging about. Better still, fit a lock, so only you can gain access.

 

  • Make regular checks. It’s important for landlords, or owners of empty property, to keep a close eye on their property and regularly check-in to make sure everything is as it should be.

 

 

Work with an experienced team

Thanks to advances in technology, these days much of the conveyancing process can be carried out online.

Great – but not if the online systems are weak and vulnerable to attack from scammers. At GD Legal, we’ve invested heavily in the security of our online systems, ensuring your personal data and details are completely secure.

 

Talk to the experts

Specialising in conveyancing, our team of experienced solicitors here at GD Legal, are your first line of defence when it comes to buying and selling property. Always going the extra mile to ensure all legal obligations are met and your rights are protected.

With many years of experience, together we can keep you and your home protected. Why not get in touch to find out more about what we do?