This month is Scams Awareness Month, and the RLA is helping members to protect themselves against being the victim of a scam.
Last month, HMRC warned landlords of tax refund scammers, after fraudsters had been found to be using email and text message to scam people out of their savings.
Scams Awareness Month is a national annual campaign that is designed to raise awareness and take a stand against the crimes and predatory practices which affect millions of people.
Tens of millions of pounds a year are lost to scams targeting both landlords and tenants. Here, we take a look at the most common and how you are able to protect yourself.
According to experts at the Land Registry, landlords are particularly at risk of property fraud. Intervention by Landlord Registry has so far prevented fraud on over 204 publications concerning properties totaling over £92 million since 2009.
Alistair Lewis, Director of Legal Services at Land Registry said: “The high value of property makes it an attractive target for fraudsters. We know that fraudsters target homes that are rented out so it is important for landlords to be vigilant and follow our advice to minimize the risk of becoming a victim to property fraud.
“While Land Registry is doing all it can to detect and prevent registration fraud,no system can be 100% fraud proof, so we encourage landlords to sign up to our free Property Alert service. You can monitor up to ten properties and will receive email alerts about certain applications such as for a new mortgage or a change of ownership.”
Over 62,000 people have so far signed up to the service.
Common property scams
- Someone selling your home is an extreme example, but there are a range of other frauds in which criminals are specifically targeting landlords.
- In one such scam someone posing as a tenant will answer an ad for an online property and ask to pay by Western Union-or a similar service. They then ‘accidentally’ pay too much, apologise and ask for the money to be returned. The original payment will bounce and the fake tenant will receive the ‘repayment’.
Advice of what to do if you receive a suspect email
Police have issued the following advice to landlords who receive a suspect email. This includes:
- Not clicking on any attachments or links within emails unless you are sure you know who sent them
- If you have not recently made an order with the company specified in the email, do not open the attachment
- Check the legitimacy of the email with the company that have supposedly sent it
- Ensure your anti-virus software is up to date and perform regular programme scans
- If you think to you are the victim of a scam, you can get advice from The Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline at 03454 04 05 06 (03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language).
- Report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or @actionfrauduk on Twitter.
- Tell friends, family and neighbours about scams they’ve seen.