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Imagine finding your house listed for auction on Rightmove and knowing nothing about it!  That’s exactly what happened to Mr. Minh To of Stockport.

Following a call from his daughter asking why he was selling his house, Mr. To discovered his 5-bedroom Greater Manchester home was listed for auction just three days later.  BBC News covers the full story here.

Another case study, reported here, tells of a house that was nearly sold following the death of its owners without the family’s knowledge, whilst they were trying to sort out the estate.

Thankfully, this type of property fraud is rare – but it is a possibility, which is why Land Registry is urging property owners to sign up to their free property alert service as a preventative measure.

Property is very often our most valuable asset.  The fact that it can be sold and mortgaged to raise large sums of money makes it an attractive target for fraudsters.

It’s not an easy scam, usually requiring fraudsters to first steal your identity.  If they manage to do this, however, they are then able to sell or mortgage your property by pretending to be you. If it isn’t discovered promptly – you, as the true property owner, might find your property has been transferred or sold without your knowledge. Not only is this incredibly distressing, it’s not easily fixed and can be a lengthy and costly process.

Land Registry state you are more at risk if:

  • your identity’s been stolen
  • you rent out your property
  • you live overseas
  • the property’s empty
  • the property isn’t mortgaged
  • the property isn’t registered with Land Registry

Measures are now in place to help prevent such fraudulent activities and Land Registry, who has a dedicated anti-fraud team, has helped prevent frauds on over 200 applications since September 2009.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Detailed steps of the measures you can take to prevent property fraud are listed on the Gov.UK website here.

If you think you may be the victim of property fraud, you should:

For legal advice on any matters relating to property, call our specialist team on 01922 639080.

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