Tuesday, May 24th, 2016
In recent years the crime rate relating to fraud has continued to increase. Unfortunately, one of the largest areas this affects is that relating to conveyancing. Therefore, all proprietors in England & Wales, as well as first time buyers, are subject to a potential risk of fraudulent acts during their ownership or throughout their sale and purchase transactions.
Although there is no way to guarantee that a proprietor will never be a victim of such fraud. There are however ways to help prevent this from becoming a reality. The following steps should be considered:
In respect of registered titles, the Land Registry hold records of the address details of the owners of each property. During the registration process if the Land Registry receives suspicious correspondence, by having up to date contact details, their offices will be able to clarify any matters which may be fraudulent and take the necessary next steps depending on the situation. This service can be provided through the Land Registry’s Property Alert Service. Registered proprietors are well advised to register their details to take advantage of this service as the Land Registry will contact the proprietor at least every six months with an update on any activity. This will also protect the property owners from being subject to identity fraud.
Often in purchase transactions buyers will have to transfer large sums of money at the request of the conveyancer. This part of the transaction is the most popular for fraudsters in this industry and cloned letters and email correspondence are often used to contact the clients in a form which appears legitimate to an unsuspecting victim. Thus prior to acting upon any such requests it is essential that clients contact the offices on the conveyancer to confirm the essential details which brings me onto the next point.
For sale and purchase transactions clients may receive requests for payment or confirmation of bank details. Once such a request is received, it is important that the client either contact their conveyancer using details provided on previous correspondence or that held on the CLC and Law Society websites to confirm the details provided. Such a practice will go a long way to reducing the number of fraudulent cases in the conveyancing market.
However, it is important for clients to be made aware of such risks so they are vigilant whilst conveyancing transactions progress. Therefore, it is our job to advise the client to follow certain procedures to reduce the likelihood of fraudsters taking advantage of the proprietors and first time buyers throughout the country.
Thus although the client must follow certain practices, we must advise our clients continually of the best procedures to ensure client protection to matters relating to fraud.