JULY is Scam Awareness Month, which is an appropriate time to revisit something we have talked about before.

Property frauds occur when criminals manage to get a property belonging to someone else registered in their names so they can either sell it or raise money on it by way of a loan.

Some schemes can be very elaborate and have resulted in the genuine owner losing substantial sums of money.

However, according to the Land Registry, since 2009 they have prevented 254 fraudulent applications being registered, representing properties valued in excess of £117 million. That said, no system can be completely fraud-proof, but by working together with solicitors they can help more people understand what they can do to protect themselves.

You may be at risk if:

- your identity has been stolen

- you rent out your property

- you live overseas

- the property is empty

- the property isn’t mortgaged

- the property isn’t registered with the Land Registry.

If that is you, you should look at the guidance given by the Land Registry - www.gov.uk/propertyfraud - and contact your solicitor with a view to registering your property if it is not already registered.

You are also advised to sign up to the Land Registry’s Property Alert Service and ensure that your contact address is not the same as the property address if you do not live at the property yourself. Otherwise, the Land Registry cannot get in contact with you, and fraudsters could get hold of further important information.

You may also be able to apply for a restriction on your title. Again, this is something a solicitor could advise you about.

If you think you already may have been a victim of fraud, you should contact the Land Registry’s property fraud line on 0300-0067030 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm) or email reportafraud@landregistry.gov.uk