How easy is it to steal your home away from you?

 

How easy is it to steal your home?

Apparently not that difficult with a little know-how, and boldness.

When your settlement agent asks you to ‘identify’ yourself it is with good reason.

We have all heard of identity theft and probably laughed it off as “it will never happen to me”.

But do you know where your personal information is stored?

 

Much of your personal information now resides on dozens, if not hundreds of servers across the globe, many now in ‘cloud storage’, e.g. MyGov, drivers license, passport, bank accounts, your work uses the cloud to store information, etc. Even your mobile phone apps are storing information about you in various places around the globe.

 

How protective are you of your identity?

Ask yourself, did you totally destroy that electricity or water bill, or did you just throw it in the bin (name, address, with account details)? After you paid your phone bill did you destroy the invoice (name, address, with account details)? When did you last change your password on your computer / email / Facebook / twitter etc.? For many of us the answer is “Not recently!”

In 2017, 1 in 3 Australian Adults Fell Victim to Cybercrime

Six million Australians have been the victim of Cybercrime in Australia throughout 2017, constituting a 13 percent increase from 2016 with a total of $2.3 Billion Dollars lost to thieves. This upward trend in cybercrime is the result of an ever increasingly connected world, a world in which cybersecurity has not been able to keep pace

In the US it has risen to 16.7 million in 2017. The cost of all of that lost data amounts to over nearly $17 billion. For 2017 and 2018, identity theft statistics have taken center stage among the many stats and facts encompassing the entire realm of cybercrime.

So how safe is your identity today? A question we all need to consider.

Historically identity theft has been viewed to be someone accessing your bank accounts, using your credit card or taking out loans in your name – all without your permission.

In the age of technology it extends further and we’ve seen a rise in people impersonating others on social media and online forums, with an intention to cause harm and often leading to emotional scars or even worse consequences

It has gotten to the point where even your home is not safe.

How then does this affect your property?

Fraudsters assume false identities so that they can pass themselves off as landowners. This enables them to offer the land as security for a loan, or to sell it to a third party, and then pocket the cash and disappear.

The prevalence of identity theft has led the Registrar of Titles and the Commissioner of Titles to recommend a new standard to verify the identity of persons transacting in land.

Verifying the identity of the person claiming to be the owner of a property, who has the authority to sell that property, is a crucial step in the land transaction process.

The Verification of Identity Practice aims to minimise the risk of land related fraud including identity theft and other improper dealings. It introduces a new, more robust standard for confirming identity that is specific for land transactions.

The most effective way to minimise the risk of land related fraud is for verification of identity to occur when a person decides to sell their property and before financial settlement.

The Practice recommends that conveyancers, settlement agents and other property professionals take reasonable steps to verify the identity of their clients and confirm their clients’ authority to give instructions when dealing with a particular property.

Under the Practice, if a person is outside of Australia, the verification of identity and the witnessing of land documents should be conducted by an Australian Consular Officer

A licensed settlement agent or lawyer is responsible for verifying the identity of their client

A Bite Of Reality

There are some easy safety measures you can take to better protect yourself, although these also come with ultimate restrictions/sacrifices:

  • Use the highest privacy settings on social media, limit personal information shared and don’t accept ‘friend’ requests from people you don’t know;

How many of you have limited your Facebook (any social media) friendships? Or have you just be-friended anybody and everybody.

  • Avoid using public computers or wireless hot spots for personal affairs;

When you walk into a supermarket have you set your phone to automatically connect with the free wifi.

  • Ensure your computer’s security and virus software are up to date;

When was the last time you updated your computers, even your phones, security and virus software?

  • Don’t provide your personal details in person, over the phone, internet or by email without first verifying the identity of the person and organisation requesting it and asking for their privacy policy (particularly if the call or email is unexpected – like informing you of a lotto win or that you are a beneficiary in a will);

How easy is it to just answer questions over the phone to a person you do not know. I’m sure we’ve all done it at some time.

  • Don’t save passwords in your phone or in writing at home, and use strong passwords unlike your children’s names, dates of birth or addresses;

If I didn’t write down my passwords with all those silly non meaningful characters of which I have several, I would never remember them.

  • Destroy any personal documents you no longer require and secure those you need.

Destroy personal documents means burn them – shredding just requires time and sticky tape to put them back together.

 

Identity theft is real! Don’t ignore it. Don’t get caught out!

 

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