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Electronic identity checks can safeguard the conveyancing industry from fraudsters

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The news of a young woman being duped into handing over £1.35 million to a person purporting to be the legal owner of the property was reported in the Daily Mail last week.  It serves as another stark reminder of the risk of fraud in the conveyancing sector.
Money laundering schemes are continually adapting with more sophisticated means to scam the profession. This latest case reported in the national press involved a fraudster taking out a rental agreement on the property before the property was placed on the market and the other who stole the identity of the real owner.
Between them they were able to fool the letting agent, the selling agent and both the seller and buying conveyancers.
If the estate agent and conveyancer of the purported seller had issued electronic identity checks, the fraudsters’ scam could have been foiled.

The standard identity checks that have been deployed for so many years are not sufficient in these times.  Training your staff, remaining extra vigilant, scrutinising the documents carefully, seeking additional references, reacting to high alert factors and double-checking with senior colleagues will not keep you and your clients safe anymore.

There have been numerous initiatives to combat the growing problem, such as Land Registry’s Property Alert, the free service which gives an early warning of suspicious activity on a property.
However, this is a big international problem and the technological advancement and sophisticated means of fraud requires global leaders in identity data to step in and provide the conveyancing industry with the much needed additional protection.
Identity data specialists utilise the most comprehensive suite of data sets, which are updated daily and sourced from over 240 countries. It is then analysed and presented using a risk-based approach, flagging data mismatches and offers a full five year electronic audit trail.

The old method of identity checks; scanning a passport, birth certificate or utility bill, however carefully, does not suffice anymore.
All professions within the housing market need to now accept the requirement for the experts of identity data intelligence to protect them and their clients from the risks of identity theft.