WARNING: Fraudsters target weakest links in VOI
The Canberra Times reported recently that a registered proprietor whose identity was stolen and house was sold by overseas scammers has been forced to sue the government for compensation.
If this had happened in SA where the VOI Standard applies and the conveyancer could not provide evidence of safe harbour VOI, they would be exposed to the fraud risk.
We've identified 5 recurring risk areas for you to avoid, ensuring consistent smooth sailing to VOI safe harbour.
- No firm-wide policy
A written policy on your firm’s approach should be a central pillar of your VOI compliance strategy. This policy will provide guidance and direction to all staff on how your firm and Identity Agents such as ZipID appointed by your firm will identify your clients for land dealings.
The existence and consistent application of a VOI policy will be a relevant consideration if any fraud claims arise.
- Client pressures to make exceptions
Bending on your VOI policy when the client shows urgency, raises unavailability as an excuse, or otherwise applies pressure may seem to be helping your client at the time. However, the ramifications to your firm if a fraud claim arises can be extremely serious.
- Inadequate or insecure record retention
It's critical to satisfy the 7 year record keeping obligations outlined under the VOI Rules should your firm’s steps taken to identify a client ever be challenged or audited. Storing paper copies of ID documents, single server storage or relying on unsecured email may leave you without evidence of VOI or expose your client’s personal information to a privacy breach.
- Failing to verify the client’s right to deal
It remains your responsibility to check the person whose identity has been verified also has the requisite right to deal (e.g. under Power of Attorney, Company Directors or Trustees). For instance, checks should be made by you to ensure that the transaction is permitted under a Power of Attorney by sighting the grant document. Similarly, when verifying Company Directors, it’s prudent to conduct ASIC checks to confirm they are recorded as a current Director.
When the VOI Standard is applied by you or your appointed Identity Agent (e.g. ZipID), you are deemed to be in the "safe harbour". This status protects your firm against any challenges or claims unless you were on notice of any special individual circumstances giving rise to the need to make further enquiries.
ZipID (part of the Veda Group) makes safe harbour VOI consistent and convenient for over 800 lawyers and conveyancers nationally via its market leading VOI Mobile App and its 'come-to-you’ Identity Agent (operating in 5 states). ZipID is a VOI partner to PEXA.