The Land Registry’s property fraud line which launched six months ago, has received over 500 calls and emails, giving members of the public access to invaluable help.
The property fraud line was launched in February for owners to quickly alert Land Registry if they are concerned their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage.
The property fraud line is one of a range of measures that Land Registry employs to help prevent or detect property fraud and safeguard the most valuable asset that people own. Between September 2009 and April 2013 they have stopped 136 fraudulent applications on properties worth an estimated £60 million.
How the property fraud line helped one couple
Mr and Mrs P are the owners of a holiday cottage they rent out via a lettings agency. When visiting the cottage they found some correspondence relating to credit cards and other financial matters addressed to someone else using the cottage’s address. This person had rented it a few weeks previously. Also, the keys to the cottage were missing from the key safe at the property.
Mr and Mrs P contacted the police and Land Registry’s property fraud line. Although there was, as yet, no other suspicious activity concerning their Land Registry information, the fraud line team alerted Mr and Mrs P to the fact their contact address was out of date. This would mean that if Land Registry needed to contact them – perhaps to tell them there was a mortgage in the process of being taken out on their property – they would not receive Land Registry’s letter. Mr and Mrs P were told how they could update their contact address, which they then did.
In the circumstances, Mr and Mrs P were also told about another Land Registry fraud protection option: the form RQ restriction. Any owner who is not living at, and does not intend to live at, a particular property can apply for one of these free of charge. The RQ restriction is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring a conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person transferring or mortgaging the property is the same person as the owner. It provides an additional safeguard against forgery by operating as a deterrent. Mr and Mrs P applied for an RQ restriction and their property now has this additional protection in place.
Land Registry’s Property Fraud Unit spokesperson Alasdair Lewis said: “The frauds we have helped to prevent have saved those concerned a lot of grief and potentially money. We’re glad to see that the property fraud line has proved successful in preventing bad situations from getting worse.”
Read more on the Land Registry website.
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To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.