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How to Protect Your Property from Fraud

Written by Katie Cullen
Written by Katie Cullen
26th January 2017 (Last updated on Tuesday 16th January 2018)

UK homeowners have increasingly been victim to a range of property fraud tactics developed by scammers.

As a comparison website for some of the UK's most trusted removal companies, we have previously highlighted potential scams from rogue traders outside of our network. But what many people do not realise is that your home and possessions may still be at risk from property fraudsters.

So, how can you get protected from these scams? have taken a look at some of the most common property fraud tactics and how you can prepare and protect your home.

What is Property Fraud?

There are three types of property fraud covered in this article, as well as how to protect yourself:

  • Fraudsters who will try to transfer the property to themselves, registering your home under their name using falsified documents.
  • Fraud during the completion of a property sale where the scammer will intercept communication and falsify banking details. The aim is to intercept funds you are transferring to your solicitor or conveyancer.
  • Investment scams.

Who is At Risk?

You may be potentially at risk from property fraud if you own a house or are buying a house. That said, some types of homeowners are more at risk.

You may be more vulnerable to fraud if you have an empty or rented-out home. Fraudsters will generally target homes that are not on the Land Registry or are not mortgaged.

You can check if you are registered by visiting the Land Registry online. Your property may be unregistered if you have owned it since 1990.  

Main Types of Property Scams

Email Scams

This involves someone gaining access to your email account and finding emails between you and your solicitor.

To protect yourself from this scam, verify your solicitor’s or conveyancer’s payment details over the phone or by post.

Avoid emailing your own bank details, instead either state them over the phone or in person. Check that they are accredited and listed as a solicitor by the Law Society.

Investment Scam

Investment scams could be seen as the ‘get-rich-quick' schemes that seem too good to be true... and that's because they usually are.

This type of scam can come in two forms:

  • Land banking – When land is advertised for potential for investment, but either does no exist or wouldn’t support development.
  • Buying to let – When rented properties are advertised as good to invest in, when in reality are no making any returns or are unoccupied.  

The key is to research before investing, and naturally be wary of anything through the mail that suggests huge returns for minimum effort. Check the company is listed on Companies House, and they have verified contact details.

Always view the land or property first before investing, and check planning application statuses before investing in development.

Other Scams

Quick Sale

This is when a quick sale company will agree to buying your property, but then lower the price at the last chance.

Online Marketplace

Be wary when searching for properties on shopping and auction marketplaces like eBay and Gumtree. Some listings may seem appealing, but the person who posted the listing may not be the legal owner.

Holiday Homes

Some estate agents have recently gotten into hot water after advertising holiday homes as residential homes. Holiday homes will have certain restrictions that mean you cannot live there year-round.

How to Protect Yourself Against Property Scams

If your property is not listed with the Land Registry, you should contact them immediately. If you’re at risk of fraud, sign up to the Land Registry Property Alert Service. Alerts will be sent to your email inbox whenever official searches or applications for changes are received against your monitored property.

The alert service won't block these applications for changes, but it will give you of notice to take action.

You can also restrict your property title deeds to safeguard your home until it is certified that you are making the changes.

This stops the registering of a mortgage or sale on your house until it can be certified it was you through a solicitor.

If you’re property is not listed with the Land Registry, contact them.

What to Do if You Are a Victim of Property Fraud

You should contact the Land Registry if you’re a victim of property fraud. They have specialist staff available to give you advice on your course of action.

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