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Aug 15, 2014

Seller Identity Verification – Why, What and How?

How would you feel if you suddenly discovered that someone had stolen your identity and used it to sell your house and pocket the proceeds?

This couldn’t happen surely. Could it?

Well, it has happened. In WA. Twice in recent years. Involving scams originating overseas with the funds being repatriated overseas, where they are very difficult to recover.

And if it did you’d get your house back, right? Wrong. The unwitting buyer has rights too. They have parted with money to buy the house, after all. And the courts have upheld their rights.

Title fraud has been a minor problem bubbling away beneath the surface for years, largely involving unscrupulous family members, bankers or advisers defrauding older people often with poor English or literacy skills. However the events described above have brought it into much sharper focus, leading to some changed procedures in the way settlement agents and real estate agents go about their business.

This is why the real estate agent must identify you as seller using the 100 point test.

Not only that, settlement agents are now required to separately identify sellers using a higher identity test as enshrined in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.

This can be quite onerous as it requires the presentation in person of an original Australian Drivers Licence and Australian Passport.

If you don’t have one of those, then you need to supply the one you do have, plus a Birth Certificate, (plus Marriage, Divorce or Change of Name Certificate/s if your current name is different to your birth name) or a Citizenship Certificate if born overseas, plus a Medicare, Centrelink or Veterans Card.

If you can’t supply one of those, then it all gets very complicated, as if the above isn’t bad enough. If you are in this situation you need to talk to us very early in the process to avoid costly settlement delays.

If you can attend our office, we can verify your identity without charge, otherwise you will need to attend at a participating Australia Post outlet who will charge you $39 each.

If you are overseas, then your identity can ONLY be verified by an authorised Australian Consular officer in an Australian diplomatic post, who will also need to sight an original Local Government Rates Notice and who should also witness your signature on the transfer of land document.

Further information on this matter can be sourced from the Landgate website here: https://www.landgate.wa.gov.au, or more precisely, here: https://www.landgate.wa.gov.au/corporate.nsf/web/Verification+of+Identity

DISCLAIMER: The above advice is intended to provide a summary and is not intended to be relied on in any particular case. It should NOT be construed as legal advice. For detailed advice specific to your circumstances you should seek specific advice from an appropriately qualified professional.

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