In most transactions solicitors are now required to verify their client’s identity.
This process is known as Verification of Identity (VOI).
As conveyancing turns electronic, all buyers and sellers are required to have their identity verified to prevent fraud. But the process is also used in other matter types too.
What documents are needed to verify your identity?
Photo identification is the primary VOI document, such as:
• drivers licence;
Other documents that may be required include:
• birth certificate;
• pension card;
• medicare card;
• marriage certificate.
Why is VOI necessary?
There have been a number of cases where people have pretended to be someone they are not. This results in a fraudulent transaction.
A husband attended a solicitor’s office with his girlfriend, who pretended to be his wife. The intention was to enter into a loan without the wife knowing.
The solicitor didn’t verify the girlfriend’s identity properly and thought she was the man’s wife.
As a result, the husband was able to mortgage the matrimonial property without the wife’s knowledge.
The wife found out about the fraudulent transaction after her husband died, shortly after committing the fraud.
Proper verification of identity of both clients would have prevented this fraudulent transaction.
A man attended a solicitor’s office pretending to be the owner of a property. He presented the certificate of title to the property so that the property could be sold.
The man was actually the nephew of the owner of the property. The owner was in a nursing home.
The solicitor didn’t take reasonable steps to verify the man’s identity.
The property was subsequently sold and the nephew disappeared with the money.
Other family members did not find out about the fraudulent transaction until after the owner died. They took steps to sell the property, only to discover that the property had already been sold.
This type of fraudulent transaction would have been prevented if the solicitor had taken proper steps to verify the identity of the man.
VOI procedures can seem like a hindrance. To us, at Sheridan Legal, it is essential to protect our clients from being the victim of fraudulent transactions.