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Conveyancers urged to publicise fraud email alert scheme

Conveyancers have been urged to inform clients of a free service which combats property fraud by sending out email alerts of any activity relating to a property. Land Registry’s Property Alert scheme helps people detect fraudulent activity on a property by sending them emails when the property’s entry on the register is updated, for example if a mortgage is taken out.

The aim is to give early warning of the most common types of property fraud, where a home is sold or mortgaged by someone stealing the real owner’s identity. Alasdair Lewis, director of legal services, said: ‘Land Registry is doing all it can to detect and prevent fraud but no system can be 100% fraud-proof, which is why we urge people to follow our advice about protecting themselves from property fraud, including signing up for Property Alert.’

Up to 10 properties registered in England and Wales can be monitored from one email address. Land Registry says it encourages solicitors to advise their clients to sign up. ‘In addition, many have distributed our “Protect your property from fraud” leaflets to their clients and continue to do so, as well as linking to the relevant advice on our website.’

While the scheme is designed for private individuals, Land Registry says it knows of some solicitors who have signed up on behalf of their clients. However a spokesperson warned: ‘If they do this, they will most probably use a company email, which can cause issues if personnel leave or change roles. Also the alert may not be instant if the email does not go directly to the client. However, we would rather citizens signed up for Property Alert than not, even if this is via their solicitor.’

By Michael Cross (Courtesy of the Law Society Gazette)