Tue 21 Nov 2023
Holly Butcher, Residential Valuer
IntroductionIn real estate, the saying 'safe as houses' has long conveyed a sense of security and stability. However, the rise of sophisticated fraud schemes, particularly Title Fraud or House Hijacking, has shaken this perception. In the wake of the pandemic, incidents of property-related fraud have seen a concerning uptick. This blog aims to shed light on the simple yet effective measures homeowners can take to safeguard their property from fraudsters.
Understanding Title Fraud:
Title Fraud, also known as House Hijacking, is a fraudulent scheme where an impostor poses as the homeowner and illegally sells the property to an unsuspecting buyer. This elaborate ruse often involves the creation of fake IDs and documents to deceive both buyers and authorities. Fraudsters typically target cash buyers to avoid the scrutiny of lenders and may market the property at a reduced price to expedite the sale.
Simple Ways to Protect Your Property
Regularly Monitor Property Records:
Stay vigilant by regularly checking your property records and ensuring they accurately reflect your ownership details.
Utilize online platforms or services that provide real-time updates on property transactions and changes in ownership.
Secure Your Personal Information:
Safeguard your personal information, especially documents related to your property.
Shred or securely dispose of paperwork containing sensitive data, such as mortgage statements and property deeds.
Use Strong Authentication Measures:
Strengthen access controls to your online property accounts by using robust passwords and enabling multi-factor authentication.
Regularly update your login credentials to reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
Verify Identities in Transactions:
Before engaging in property transactions, verify the identity of all parties involved, including buyers, sellers, and conveyancers.
Be cautious of rushed or pressured transactions, as fraudsters often attempt to exploit a sense of urgency.
Choose Reputable Conveyancers:
Research and select conveyancers with a proven track record and positive reviews.
Avoid using conveyancers recommended by the seller or any party involved in the transaction to minimize the risk of collusion.
Educate Yourself and Your Network:
Stay informed about the latest fraud schemes and educate yourself on common red flags.
Share this knowledge with friends, family, and neighbors to create a community-wide awareness.
Report Suspicious Activity Promptly:
If you notice any suspicious activity related to your property, report it promptly to law enforcement and relevant authorities.
Timely reporting increases the chances of preventing or mitigating the impact of fraud.
In an era where property-related fraud is on the rise, taking proactive steps to protect your investment is crucial. By implementing these simple yet effective measures, homeowners can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to Title Fraud. Stay vigilant, secure your personal information, and be proactive in verifying the identities of those involved in property transactions. Through awareness and action, you can help safeguard your property and contribute to a safer real estate environment for all.