The NSW Department of Fair Trading issued the ‘Real
Estate Fraud Prevention Guidelines’ in 2013. They guidelines state that agents should:
- Conduct an identity check face to face and sight original documents to verify a vendor’s identity.
- Verify the vendor’s identity from an original primary photographic identification document and an original or certified copy of a secondary non-photographic identification document.
- Verify the legal ownership of the property from an original or certified copy of a primary property ownership document such as a property certificate, current rate notice or other document conferring the power of sale.
In verifying the information from the relevant documents, the agent should be reasonably satisfied that:
- The documents are legible and do not appear to have been altered in any way.
- There is no apparent discrepancy between the information collected from the agent and the information contained in the documents (other than a discrepancy that can be reasonably explained and supported, such as a change of name or the owner has recently been married).
- In the case of a primary photographic identification document —that the photograph contained in the document is a true likeness of the owner of the property.
These Guidelines arguably impose the same identity collection regime for agents as for mortgage brokers and conveyancers i.e. the Verification of Identity (‘VOI’) Standard in the way the guidelines require an in-person meeting and essentially 100 points of ID. It does seem like the industry is settling on the VOI as the uniform standard of identity for all participants however this does lead to an issue of potential duplication of due diligence.
Introducing AirID for estate agents
Dott & Crossitt Solicitors has recently released a free App for estate agents which allows to comply with their legal requirements to identify their clients via a method which is convenient, secure and professional.
AirID guides the agent through the collection of the requisite documents with your client. Copies of the identification documents are taken with the phone’s camera but they are not stored onto your phone, protecting your client’s privacy.
The scanned versions of the ID are instead sent securely to the Cloud and a VOI-compliant report is generated and emailed to you. For privacy legislation, this is the only file you need to keep insofar as ID is concerned.
AirID is available for download on iTunes to approved real estate agents. Contact Dott & Crossitt for a user name and password.
As always, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with anyone at the team from Dott & Crossitt or LawSeeker if you have any queries about this matter.