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30% increase in ‘property alert’ registrations as homeowners look to protect themselves against rising title fraud

New figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request by Thirdfort, a risk management platform combining Know Your Client (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Source-of-Funds (SoF) verification, show a 30% increase in the number of homeowners signing to a property alert scheme to protect against fraudulent property transactions.

Some 178,086 property owners registered for the free HM Land Registry’s Property Alert Service in 2022, compared with 135,624 in 2020. 34,821 have signed up so far this year.[1] The rise in registrations suggests that homeowners remain increasingly concerned about the risk of fraud, following alarming figures in recent years.

Olly Thornton-Berry, co-founder and Managing Director of Thirdfort:

 “Property fraud is a major risk, particularly as fraudsters become increasingly sophisticated, and the economic climate remains challenging. There’s been an explosion in fake ID documents, and we’ve seen some high profile examples of fraudsters acquiring ownership of properties using forged documents to impersonate registered owners. Empty properties, tenanted properties and those without a mortgage are particularly at risk.

It’s crucial we use all of the tools available to prevent fraudulent sales and HM Land Registry’s Property Alert Service offers homeowners access to a simple and highly effective method of minimising the risk of title fraud. We’d urge more homeowners to take advantage of this very effective tool, particularly as fraud risk continues to increase.”

According to the FOI data, 618,185 people in total have now signed up for the free service since its launch in 2014. With approximately 24.8 million homes in the UK, this could represent as little as 2.5% of property owners, despite significant risks of title fraud.

HM Land Registry’s Property Alert service offers a quick and simple way for homeowners to protect themselves against property title fraud. Property owners can sign up in minutes and can register up to 10 properties. Email alerts are sent when HM Land Registry receives an application to change the register as well as for official searches. This enables property owners to judge whether the activity is suspicious and if they should seek further advice.

Olly Thornton-Berry concluded:

“When it comes to verifying buyers and sellers of property, cutting-edge technology such as AI, Open Banking and cryptographic and biometric verification also has a key role to play in protecting both homeowners and property professionals from identity fraud. That’s why Thirdfort is working with over 1000 conveyancing firms, estate agents and law firms to address these risks.”

*Property owners can register up to 10 properties. An individual does not need to own the property to set up an alert. In 2021, there were 24.8 million households in England and Wales according to ONS data.

[1] As of 18 May 2023

This article was submitted to be published by Thirdfort as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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