Property fraud hotline set up by Land Registry

The Land Registry has launched a dedicated phone line to help tackle mortgage crime and home ownership fraud.

Since the credit crunch fraud on mortgages has more than doubled, and with household budgets still being squeezed, levels are set to rise, says credit reference agency Experian.

In 2012, mortgage fraud cases numbered 38 in every 10,000 applications, more than twice the level seen in 2007.

The Land Registry phone line has been set up so owners worried that their property might be the target of a fraudulent sale or mortgage can tip off investigators about scammers.

Callers can contact the Land Registry between 8.30 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday on 0300 006 7030.

Empty, tenanted or mortgage-free properties are most at risk of fraud, especially second homes or homes belonging to the elderly living in care.

Landlords are also urged to check empty buy to let homes regularly.

The Land Registry warns that estate agents and letting agents often discover attempted frauds when they spot a rental property is marketed for sale.

Fraudsters also target properties where the owner has recently died and steal the deceased’s identity.

Tackling property fraud requires everyone to play their part, says Alasdair Lewis, director of legal services for Experian.

The counter-fraud team has prevented fraud valued at £52 million since September 2009 by working with the police and other agencies.

The Land Registry also has a scheme were absent owners can register a restriction on their property file.

The system means conveyancers have to prove the seller is the true owner before signing over the deeds.

The scheme is free for homeowners, including landlords, and offers compensation if they fall victim to property fraudsters.

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