The hit ITV Drama “Our House”, has highlighted the importance of registering for a free service provided by HM land registry to protect yourself.
……………Fi (Tuppence Middleton) returns home from a weekend away to discover another couple moving into the marital home she owned with estranged husband Bram (Martin Compston) which had been sold to them by her estranged husband without Fi’s knowledge………………
Although the resolution of this fraud was not quite depicted in the drama as it would have unfolded in reality, the process of endeavouring to prove the fraudulent transaction can be very lengthy, time consuming and extremely stressful for all parties concerned.
Whilst this type of cyber fraud is more prevalent in properties that are tenanted, sole owners (especially of unmortgaged properties), owners who are in hospital for some time or in a care home, owners who have passed away or owners that spend a lot of time overseas and leave their properties vacant for long periods of time, are all at high risk. EVERYONE should be protecting themselves as much as possible against every increasing cyber fraud.
It has also been noted that fraudster use false ID to pretend to be a buyer and make an offer, then they withdraw from the transaction just before exchange of contracts so that they can use the information that they have learned during the process to commit title fraud on the owner of the property, whilst the property is being remarketed awaiting a new buyer.
One simple step to protect yourself from this kind of incident (whether it be an estranged partner or cyber fraudsters) would be to register for a free service provided by HM Land Registry. This protection will take two minutes of your time – you only need to register your name, address and e-mail address and will then receive an email alert from the Land Registry any time a land registry search is carried out against your property or an application being registered against it. To register please visit https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/
If you have not registered your property, you are at higher risk of a fraudulent sale of your property especially if your property is tenanted or has been noted to be vacant.