Homebuyers warned against fraudsters as stamp duty holiday deadline nears

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2 min read
Estate Agents' "For Sale", "Sold", and " To-Let" boards are pictured outside residential properties in south London on July 6, 2020. - British media reported Monday that Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is set to outline plans to raise the threshold at which homebuyers pay Stamp Duty on their new properties, currently set at GBP 125,000. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
UK Finance said buyers are at risk of being manipulated into paying money into the wrong account by fraudsters. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP via Getty Images

UK Finance has warned homebuyers to take steps to avoid being scammed, as the end of the stamp duty holiday looms.

The organisation which represents financial firms has said that criminals have targeted large sums of money, including deposits, while the stamp duty holiday has fuelled a boom in sales.

Buyers will be racing to close their sales to take advantage of the tax break introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak, which expires on 31 March.

UK Finance said buyers are at risk of being manipulated into paying money into the wrong account by fraudsters.

Watch: Martin Roberts explains the new rules surrounding stamp duty

The first half of 2020 saw around £16.2m lost from personal accounts and frauds involving fake emails with new payment details, according to the organisation. Identity theft was among other scams used to swindle people out of money.

“Moving house can be a stressful time; however, it’s vital to remember to take steps which could keep you safe from scams,” Katy Worobec, the managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, told PA.

“This includes letting your bank and other organisations know that you’ve changed address, making sure your mail is secure, and ensuring the recipient’s bank details are correct when paying large amounts of money during the house buying process, such as your deposit.”

READ MORE: Calls for UK stamp duty extension as 325,000 buyers 'set to miss deadline'

The watchdog said that buyers should be alert to emails that contain new payment details from firms, as well as duplicate invoices for services.

It said there had also been instances of criminals pretending to be from an estate agent and asking for personal details, claiming the mover is due a “refund.”

It advised customers to check payment details with agents or solicitors by phone before transferring money.

To avoid identity theft, it said householders should ensure they had notified banks, building societies and other organisations of a change of address, and set up a redirection service to catch any other post.

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