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Guard against id fraud to prevent home from being sold

A person’s home is usually their biggest asset, and one which is looked after and protected by the owner.  But imagine a situation where your home is sold by someone pretending to be you.

Property identity theft is a growing trend.  A person who has enough information about you, your address, a fake driver’s licence, copy utility bills plus an up-to-date Land Registry search, which is readily available online, could persuade an estate agent and solicitor that they are the individual noted at the Land Registry as owner of the property and therefore have the right to sell to anyone.

What if that person is also your tenant and is living in the property.  With all of their own personal effects around them, viewing the property with potential buyers is not a problem.  The house could then be sold by the bogus owners and it is reported that the Land Registry have paid millions of pounds in compensation for situations like this.

Avoiding this and other devastating effects of identity theft need only a few careful measures to be put in place.  It is sensible to do everything possible to protect your identity.  If criminals can find out your personal details, they can use them to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, loans, apply for a passport and a driver’s licence, all using your name.  To reduce the risk of property ID fraud you should:-

  • always shred financially sensitive information including store card statements, loan applications and envelopes with addresses on.  Identity thieves will raid bins to find useful paperwork.
  • Always check bank statements and store cards carefully.  Look out for any spending which is not yours and report it.
  • Be careful if you are using social networking sites.  What information is on your personal page.  Does any of the information allow someone access to your account eg is the password to your internet banking a family members name? Are they mentioned on your profile?
  • Keep your passport and driver’s licence in a safe place.
  • You should not write down pin numbers, but if you have to keep them written, keep them separate from your cards.
  • Post – if you are expecting something that does not arrive report it to the Post Office.  Your post could have been intercepted.
  • Make sure you are registered at your address on the electoral roll.  If you are registered at your address your false identity cannot be registered elsewhere.

It is possible to check your own credit rating by using credit agencies such as Experian.  Keeping a regular check on your own credit reference will identify any changes which have not been made by you and you can then address the situation.

To discuss how to prevent property fraud contact Jacqueline Beadle, Associate in the Litigation team at Gullands