What is Home Identity Fraud and how can you protect yourself?

Preventing Home Identity Fraud

What exactly is home identity fraud?

Home identity fraud usually involves somebody selling your property without your knowledge. Having first stolen your identity by collecting your personal details and documents, they then pretend to be you to transfer ownership of the property to somebody else or get a mortgage for a property you own, in order to steal and money paid.

If you have not taken measures to protect yourself against this type of activity, it's possible for this to happen without you or anybody else involved having any suspicion.

Who is likely to be at risk?

All property owners are at risk of this type of fraud. However, those who have paid off their mortgages in their entirety are likely to be more vulnerable. The absence of a lender means that no additional checks or authority is required to confirm any change of ownership. You may also be at a greater risk if your property is empty or rented out.

How common is it?

There have been multiple cases of this happening in the news in recent years, and there are probably many more unreported or undiscovered occurrences. 

The following news articles are just a couple of recent examples:

Stockport identity fraud victim's £500k home put on market
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-38080102
Property fraud sees mother and daughter jailed
https://www.todaysconveyancer.co.uk/news/property-fraud-sees-mother-daughter-jailed/

 It has become common enough that the Land Registry has introduced services to help prevent this type of fraud. There are also everyday things you can do help protect you and the property you own.

How can you protect yourself against it?

As mentioned above, prevention is better than cure and there are ways that you can safeguard your identity to protect your home. 

  • Ensure your property is registered with the Land Registry (HMLR)
  • Be cautious when disposing of personal details. Shred any paperwork which may contain information referring to your identity.
  • It is also important to make sure any personal information you store electronically is safe and secure and not susceptible to online fraudsters.
  • Check all bank statements carefully for any suspicious transactions.
  • Register a restriction on the property title. This means that should a sale or mortgage be instructed, the process can only be performed by a licensed conveyancer or solicitor, who will provide a certificate that the homeowner has requested the application.
  • Keep your details with the Land Registry up to date.
  • Sign up to the Land Registry Property Alert Service.

What is the Land Registry Property Alert Service?

The Land Registry Property Alert Service is a free property monitoring service. By providing your details securely, you will receive alerts from HMLR should any activity arise on the properties you have registered to monitor. You can create your account via the Land Registry Property Alert Service Website.

HMLR also have a dedicated fraud line to contact should you suspect that suspicious activity has taken place against your identity and your property.

What more can you do?

We are happy to provide personal advice about how to protect against home identity fraud as well as help register the necessary restrictions and alerts. Please, submit an enquiry via our contact page if you would like more information.