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Protect your home against fraud
As our digital world continues to grow, so do the opportunities for fraudsters to take advantage. Reports of fraud are on the rise, particularly when it comes to buying and selling property.
All firms and businesses are at risk of an attack from fraudsters and of course we have systems in place to combat this. Stories of cyber-attacks have become increasingly common unfortunately; we hear of fraudsters ‘hacking’ into websites and intercepting emails sent to or from a firm, or even contacting the firm’s clients directly and supplying ‘new’ bank details purporting to be from the firm. The fraudsters are able to do this with software which alerts them to any email being sent or received which contains bank details and they will then attempt to intercept and amend the bank details contained in that email. This applies not only to firms and businesses, but also personal email accounts which can contain other sensitive data about you.
No doubt you will have seen the stories in the news of criminals pretending to be legitimate law firms and convincing clients to send their monies to bogus accounts, or alternatively convincing the law firm that they are the client and providing bogus account details for funds due to the genuine client, with monies never being seen again. While we do not wish to concern you, it is our responsibility to bring this to your attention so you are as aware and vigilant as us when it comes to preventing this happening and protecting your property.
What we will do to combat fraudulent activity
There are a number of steps we will take to protect you, your funds and your future property, which we will explain as and when you instruct us.
As well as the initial security checks we will conduct, we will also be vigilant throughout your matter through the use of phone calls, letters and face to face meetings to confirm certain details that could be easily abused if completed over email.
We will keep you updated as to the latest scams that may be in the market place that you will not be aware of. Fraudsters are convincing at imitating law firms using bogus headed paper and scam emails. The latest scam in the market place is for fraudsters to purport to be from solicitors’ accounts departments requesting that you transfer large sums of money to them; another would be if you receive a letter or email purporting to be from an estate agent asking to send deposit funds with details of a bank account. If any of this activity occurs, report it to us immediately.
What can you do to protect yourselves against fraudulent activity or fraudulent sellers?
There are also ways you can protect yourself, as well as working closely with us. Keeping an eye on your bank accounts is important to monitor your funds. It is important you do not send us any bank details on an email but co-operate with us in the use of letters, phone calls and face to face meetings if necessary. Make sure your computer has anti virus software and is regularly updated and watch out for suspicious emails. A secure password should use three words and include a symbol, upper/lower case letters and numbers. Remember the more complex and unique to you your password is, the harder it is to crack.
If you are buying a property that is empty and the seller lives abroad or is not available, or the purchase is extremely urgent and/or you are restricted in viewing the property, please let us know immediately as the sale could be a scam.
As a way to combat any such attempts and to protect your property, the Land Registry has launched the Property Alert Service, which is a free property monitoring service. You simply create an account on the Property Alert website and can then monitor up to ten properties. You will receive email alerts when official searches and applications are received against the property, and if any of this activity seems suspicious or has not been done by you, you can take the necessary action. The email you receive will signpost you to who you should contact should you suspect suspicious activity. In order to sign up, all you need is a valid email address and the postcode or title number of the property(ies) you want to monitor. The service will only monitor properties situated in England or Wales, and they must be registered with the Land Registry. You don’t have to own the property to set up an alert, and the property can be monitored by different people. To find out more you can visit the website or you can call the Property Alert team on 0300 006 0478.
It is important to note that should you receive any emails purporting to be from the Land Registry regarding the sale or purchase of a property, take time to consider the content. The Land Registry will rarely email you with any questions or details regarding your property and instead would write to you at the addresses in the Proprietorship Register. If you do receive emails from the Land Registry, check the email address itself as these normally indicate fraudulent activity and if in any doubt call the Land Registry before opening any attachments or clicking links.
We are in the world of email that was intended to speed up transactions but unfortunately cyber crime is ever increasing and we all need to stay one step ahead. If you have any concerns about the identity of the seller or suspicions of fraud from your own dealings with the property you must advise us immediately.
To speak to any of our Property teams about your next move, contact us on the details below:
Fareham: 01329 222096
Southampton: 023 8071 7410
Portsmouth: 023 9277 6549
Chandler’s Ford: 023 8071 7467