SHIP spearheads a united fight against fraud

Safe Home Income Plans has secured a place on the National Fraud Authority’s Mortgage Fraud Forum as it looks to prevent equity release consumers being duped by scam artists.

Andrea Rozario, director-general of SHIP, says that although fraud is a relatively small problem in the equity release sector, it wants to take a pro-active approach to combating it.

The trade body has also established a Fraud Working Group to consider the impact of fraud on equity release. Its primary objective will be to bring together SHIP members, advisers and solicitors to implement good practice guidelines and ensure every possible step is taken to combat fraud.

Rozario says it wants to have a single port of call for fraud prevention agencies to contact.

It will also consider ways of distributing information and ensuring the industry is able to present a united stance to fight fraud.

The move comes ahead of the trade body’s relaunch at the end of the month, which will see it represent the whole equity release industry.

Rozario says that unlike the mortgage market, fraud in the sector does not generally consist of fake documents and bogus valuations, but is more prone to boiler room scams.

The working group will develop industry guidelines for those working in equity release to complement SHIP’s existing code of conduct.

She says: “An individual’s home is often their largest and most valuable asset – both financially and often sentimentally. Therefore the decision to release the equity from it is a big one and it is important that consumers have confidence in the safety of the products they have chosen.

“SHIP’s code of conduct has helped protect customers and build the reputation of the industry. The Fraud Working Group will work to develop industry guidelines to further increase standards.”