Upad takes a look at some common types of property fraud and how to protect yourself
Property rental fraud is big business for conmen, with many walking away with £1000’s in deposits or from property hijacking. Landlords and tenants are both victims of fraud and it’s important to understand how it works to avoid it happening to you.
Property hijacking, as it is known, is where a landlord’s identity is stolen by criminals in order to sell their rental property. This type of crime has tripled in the last four years, with an estimated £25 million made by fraudsters.
A criminal will first go about stealing your identity, using your name as the owner of the property to obtain fake identification and then use this to sell your property to an unsuspecting buyer.
Fraudsters obtain this information by posing as a prospective tenant, changing their name by deed poll and then applying for a passport. Once they have access to the property, they can show prospective buyers round and sell it before you have any idea of what’s going on.
How can you protect yourself from this type of fraud? Before you go assuming a stage name. follow these tips;
Now on to property fraud risk for tenants, who are the more likely target for criminals because they are required to share personal information in order to rent a property.
The most common type of fraud is to advertise property details at a very low rent, inevitably receive a huge number of enquiries from tenants that can’t believe their luck and subsequently ask for large deposits to ‘secure’ the property. With a large wad of a deposit, and no contract signed (and perhaps not even a real property), the fraudster runs off leaving the tenants out of pocket. Tenants can protect themselves by doing the following;
For both tenants and landlords, they need to be vigilant when it comes to online scams- especially with personal information and financial transactions needed to let and rent properties. As an online company, Upad need to be vigilant about scammers too. Our Approvals team manually checks every single advert that is placed with Upad. This is to ensure that portal criteria is met, along with ensuring that an ad that is suspiciously underpriced does not go live to unsuspecting tenants and that the owner of the property is the one advertising the property, or has permission from the owner to do so.
We check ownership using the Landmark Register and if there’s no match, we ask for further proof from the person advertising- such as a mortgage statement or utility bill. To comply with data protection, when a tenant makes an enquiry about a Upad property, we will only send their details onto the landlord if they agree to do so with a secondary link sent from Upad.
Other scams you should keep an eye out for;
Other tips from the National Crime Agency include;
1: Never open emails from an unknown source
2: Don’t respond to anti-virus software messages that pop up online
3: Install anti-spyware
4: Use a firewall
5: Make sure your computer software is bang up-to-date as this will include the latest security measures.
Advertise your property with Upad, who go the extra mile to ensure landlords and tenants are both protected from fraud.