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NOVEMBER 2005

Proof of Identity

In a recent edition of our Law Report we highlighted the need for us to confirm the identity of each client in order to minimise the prospect of acting on behalf of a fraudster who poses as the owner of property or as a person to whom money may be owed.

Believe it or not, fraud is becoming an increasingly common problem and while “electronic” banking and registration of land transactions etc may be more efficient and convenient, the lack of personal contact, property deeds and documentation gives increased opportunity for fraud.

For land transactions and in certain other matters there is a statutory obligation on us to be satisfied beyond doubt concerning the identity of the client. It is usual that we ask, as a minimum for those whom we do not know well, for a copy of a current form of photo ID, such as passport, drivers licence, gun licence etc.

Unfortunately there are circumstances where photo ID is not available or may be available but is out of date. In such circumstances we would normally ask to see some current corroborating material such as Bank Statement, rate demand or similar addressed to the client. In the case of an elderly client in a rest home a Certificate of Identity may be requested from the Rest Home Manager.

In the case of a new client who has no photo ID we would require formal identification by a reliable independent witness in the same way as would be required for a passport. That witness should be prepared to sign a statutory declaration as to the length of time that he or she has known the client and to also provide us with his or her personal ID.

We have had to recognise that times have changed and that our concern over identity is prompted by concern for welfare of our clients. So, please do not be offended if we ask for ID. It’s because we do care.