Only technology can help agents stop scams like the Reverend Mike Hall’s

Last week’s story of a clergyman whose house was unwittingly sold for £ 130,000 shows how crooks can pass through the net in real estate transactions – although luckily the criminal involved has now been arrested.

As gatekeepers of the market, real estate agents and transport agents have a key role to play in detecting fraudulent attempts to purchase property.

However, manual checks are always prone to human error. But cutting-edge technology, providing rock-solid identity (ID) verification, is now available to protect both homeowners and real estate professionals from the risk of fraud.

Mike Hall’s case highlights the need for real estate agents and transport agents to make more use of this technology to improve the checks they perform.

New technologies of AI, passport chip reading, open banking and facial recognition can automate identity and anti-money laundering checks. In addition, it is easy to use.

Open Banking, for example, makes it easier for agents and lawyers to collect the financial information they need. Additionally, the use of Open Banking technology means that the information lawyers and agents receive comes directly from the bank, removing the possibility for someone to forge it or forge documents.

Agents and transport agents can clearly indicate where proper due diligence and source of wealth verifications are carried out in a transaction.

And facial biometric technology is far more effective and efficient than manual identity checks.

It instantly analyzes unique aspects of the human body, such as fingerprints, voice patterns, facial features, and retinal scans, using them as personal identifiers.

The best systems then cross-reference and verify biometric characteristics with those previously captured and saved under a trusted identity, such as a passport.

Digital standard

Last year, HM Land Registry announced its digital ID standard – a new set of requirements to encourage digital identity checks in the transfer of ownership process.

To meet the requirements of this standard, vendors will need to use a range of different technologies, including biometric facial recognition and near field communication (NFC). NFC is a secure way to remotely determine the authenticity of identity documents such as passports.

Although aimed at transport agents, HM Land Registry’s approach will help increase the adoption of digital ID technology and reduce the risk of fraud.

We have asked the government to encourage agents to adopt similar tools, and we propose that all regulators responsible for AML (HMRC in the case of real estate agents) take a similar approach.

These controls are necessary to protect the professionals involved in the home buying process, as well as the customers.

When the stakes are high, it makes sense to deploy all the technological tools at our disposal. The news from Reverend Hall is a stark reminder of this.

Olly Thornton-Berry is co-founder and CEO of Third fort. Its verification application is used by some 550 companies in the real estate industry.

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