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In its first year, over 19,000 people have signed up to the UK Land Registry’s free Property Alert service which provides an early warning of possible suspicious activity on someone’s property. The aim of Property Alert is to help people protect their home from fraudsters. ‘There are many people who have no idea that someone could steal their home from under them, but unfortunately it can and does happen,’ said Tracey Salvin, Property Alert service manager. ‘For example, someone may pretend to be you using forged documents and sell or mortgage your home. While this is not common, when it does happen it can have devastating consequences for the victim. Imagine finding out that someone else has sold or mortgaged your property without your knowledge and disappeared with the money, leaving you to pick up the pieces,’ she explained. A case study involved a Ms Anderson (names have been changed) who signed up for the Property Alert service and placed an alert on her property. She received an email alert the very next day saying that an application to transfer her property had been made. Ms Anderson knew nothing about this and contacted Land Registry’s property fraud reporting line. On investigation, they found that the application had been made by Ms Anderson’s father and contained evidence claiming to show that Ms Anderson’s identity had been checked by a solicitor. Ms Anderson claimed she had never been to see this solicitor and denied signing any transfer of her property. She also alleged that her father was intercepting her mail and at one time had taken her passport. When the Land Registry contacted the solicitor concerned, he confirmed he had met someone claiming to be Ms Anderson but who, it turned out, must have been an imposter. ‘As a result of Ms Anderson contacting Land Registry, we formally notified Ms Anderson’s father of her objection to his application. As we didn’t receive any response from him, we cancelled his application. This allowed Ms Anderson to proceed with selling her property as she had planned to do,’ said Salvin. Property fraud can happen in many ways. For example, fraudsters may steal someone’s identity and attempt to gain ownership of a property by using forged documents. The fraudsters may then raise money by mortgaging the property without the owner’s knowledge before disappearing with the money, leaving the owner to deal with the consequences. Land Registry has stopped fraud on properties worth more than £70 million since 2009. Those wishing to join will need to set up an online account with Land Registry which is free They will then be able to monitor up to 10 registered properties in England and Wales. Email alerts will be sent when there is certain activity on the property and people can then judge whether or not the activity is suspicious and if they should seek further advice. People who are not online can also sign up for Property Alert by calling… Continue reading →
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