Homeowners registering for HMLR’s property fraud alert service “up 300%”

New figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request by Thirdfort show a 300% increase in the number of homeowners signing to a property alert scheme to protect against fraudulent property transactions.

Some 135,624 property owners registered for the free HM Land Registry’s Property Alert Service in 2021, compared with 46,043 in 2020. More than 110,000 have already signed up this year. The rise in registrations suggests that homeowners are increasingly concerned about the risk of fraud, following alarming figures in recent years.

According to the FOI data, 515,709 property owners in total have now signed up for the free service since its launch in 2014. With approximately 28 million homes in the UK, this represents between just 2% and 4% of property owners, despite significant risks of title fraud.

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

“Fraud is a huge problem in the UK property market. We’ve seen some alarming instances 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.

The property industry is hot on the heels of these fraudsters and cutting-edge technology has a key role to play in protecting both homeowners and property professionals. Thirdfort is working with over 850 conveyancing firms, estate agents and law firms to address these risks using Open Banking, cryptographic and biometric verification, and real-time PEPs and sanctions monitoring.”

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:

“HM Land Registry’s Property Alert Service offers homeowners access to a simple and highly effective method of minimising the risk of title fraud. While on one hand it’s hugely positive that there’s been such an increase in people using the scheme, on the other these numbers still account for a very small percentage of UK homes. We’d urge more homeowners to take advantage of this very effective tool, particularly as fraud risk continues to increase.”

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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