Increasing numbers of homeowners have signed up to a free Land Registry alert scheme to protect against fraudulent property transactions.
Figures obtained through a freedom of information request by agency-backed risk management platform Thirdfort have revealed a 300% increase in the number of homeowners registering for the Land Registry Property Alert Service.
Some 135,624 property owners registered for the tool in 2021 compared with 46,043 in 2020, according to the research.
More than 110,000 have already signed up this year.
According to the data, 515,709 property owners in total have now signed up for the free service since its launch in 2014.
With approximately 28m homes in the UK, Olly Thornton-Berry, managing director of Thirdfort, warns this represents between just 2% and 4% of property owners despite significant risks of title fraud.
He said: “Fraud is a huge problem in the UK property market. We’ve seen some alarming instances of fraudsters acquiring ownership of properties using forged documents to impersonate registered owners. Empty properties, tenanted properties and those without a mortgage are particularly at risk.
“The property industry is hot on the heels of these fraudsters and cutting-edge technology has a key role to play in protecting both homeowners and property professionals.
“Thirdfort is working with over 850 conveyancing firms, estate agents and law firms to address these risks using Open Banking, cryptographic and biometric verification, and real-time property exposed persons and sanctions monitoring.”
Thornton-Berry said the Land Registry’s Property Alert Service offers homeowners access to a simple and highly effective method of reducing the risk of title fraud, adding: “While on one hand it’s hugely positive that there’s been such an increase in people using the scheme, on the other these numbers still account for a very small percentage of UK homes. We’d urge more homeowners to take advantage of this very effective tool, particularly as fraud risk continues to increase.”