Unoccupied property scammers - What to watch out for

The last thing any unoccupied property owner wants, is to find out they have been scammed out of money or sensitive information. Scammers will use all sorts of methods and tactics to gain valuable information for their personal gain.

Properties most at risk of potential scams are:

  • Rental properties / landlords
  • Unoccupied properties
  • High value properties
  • Mortgage-free properties
  • A property where the owner lives abroad
  • Only one contact address available to the Land Registry
  • Unregistered owners

Highlighted below, are just some examples of what scammers can do in order to make money or gain sensitive information via your unoccupied property.

Emailing hacking

Emails can be intercepted by scammers and hackers, so when circulating information with your solicitors or other contacts, on a property that you are purchasing or selling, be sure to do the following:

  • Do not send any bank details in an email. Always try to make payments in person, at the bank or office or via the company’s official phone number.
  • If you receive banking information by email or even post, double check this against the company’s website or via their office.
  • If you are being pressed to complete a sale quickly over email, beware! This could be a scammer trying to secure a quick payment.
  • Before transferring any money, send just £1 via the banking details provided. Once your solicitor has confirmed via phone or in person that the transfer has come through, it should be safe to transfer the full amount.

Mail fraud

A mass scamming opportunity, mail fraud is very affective at catching people out. Scammers may send letters, leaflets, and brochures to property owners, claiming to be bogus solicitor firms, builders, or conveyors, offering too good to be true services.

Scammers may even intercept your mail, to access your sensitive information such as bank details, contact details, addresses, NI number, mortgage details etc.

Fake or rogue businesses

If you’re looking to rent out your property and would prefer a lettings agent to manage your tenants, a specialist company to maintain your unoccupied property or you need a solicitor or property advice, then be sure to do your research before parting with any money. Choose a registered solicitor, conveyancer, or agent.

Check their credentials to ensure they are a legitimate and licensed business. Visit their website and / or their offices to ensure their office premise is a legit and function business.

How to help avoid property scammers

  • If you feel that your property could be at risk of fraud, you can register with the HM Land Registry Property Alert service, as they will alert you when certain activity occurs on your monitored property.
  • Keep your details with the HM Land Registry as up to date as possible. Official letters and notices will be sent to the address you provide, so to ensure nothing is missed, and keep your details updated.
  • By registering your property, your property title is more secure. In cases of fraud, you might also be entitled to compensation.
  • By putting a restriction on your property title, you can prevent the HM Land Registry from registering a sale or mortgage on your property. Unless of course it has been confirmed by a solicitor or conveyancer that the application was made by you.

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