Scams and frauds are a growing part of our daily lives with increasingly clever techniques being used to hoodwink innocent parties. One such scam which has been receiving Press comment in recent weeks is where someone’s home is sold without the knowledge or consent of the homeowner. This is more likely to occur when the property is unmortgaged (debt free), empty, rented out, the owner is living overseas, or has been the victim of identity theft.
How can this be prevented? Since 2014, it has been possible to sign up to the Land Registry’s anti-fraud “Property Alert Service” for free. Of the 29 million homes in England and Wales only 250,000 have currently registered for the service. Users of the service are alerted when local authority searches are carried out on their property, a good indicator that a conveyancer (solicitor) is preparing the property for sale. If the homeowner receives an alert and hasn’t authorised any search activity on their property, the system flags that a fraud is being carried out.
Homeowners are protected by a state guarantee that says the Registry will pay out from a dedicated indemnity fund in cases of financial crime. The scheme has paid out £12.5m since 2016.
The Property Alert Service is straight forward to find using any search engine and the registration process is quick and straightforward. A sign-up process of approximately 15 minutes or less.
As a way of protecting possibly the biggest asset that you own, I think that it is worth checking out.