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Steps to Avoid Home Hijacking

Fraudulent Conveyancing Transactions

As a homeowner, you are most at risk of being a victim of property fraud if the property is:

• empty;

• not mortgaged;

• tenanted;

• unregistered

• being refurbished; or

• high value.

This list is not conclusive, and everyone is at risk of being a victim of property fraud, especially those who live abroad.

The most common example of property fraud is where fraudsters impersonate the homeowner by obtaining fake identities, sell the house quickly (often with no parties attending the property) and make off with the sale proceeds (this process is known as ‘Home Hijacking’).

To lessen the risk of being a victim, all homeowners should consider the following steps:

1. Ensure that your details on the registered title at HM Land Registry are up to date. This is because HM Land Registry will use these details to contact you if any applications are made to change your registered title;

2. Register your property at HM Land Registry if your property is currently unregistered as this provides greater certainty and security of title;

3. Put a restriction on your title (known as an anti-fraud restriction) which means further certification is required before a property can be sold (this may not be suitable, and you should seek professional advice before doing so); and

4. Sign up for HM Land Registry’s free property alert service which can be found here. An alert will be sent to the homeowner immediately when an application is made to change the registered title. This service does not stop a change being made to the title, but it will alert you to act as soon as possible.

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