Checking IDs Effectively

Fraud Prevention Month 2020

Based on our extensive experience with fraud claims and the feedback of a number of your fellow practitioners, we've created a checklist to help you take steps to avoid fraud.

Verifying the identity of a party to a transaction is the easiest part, or is it?  Apparently not, since real estate fraud is increasing at an alarming rate.

Fraudsters are constantly improving identification reproductions, making them almost undetectable and inexpensive to acquire on the dark web.

Everyday Chicago Title witnesses firsthand repercussions of fraud on homeowners, businesses and lenders. One thing is clear: nobody wins, except the fraudsters!

Here are 3 F's for an effective ID Check.


Flee the Room

Don’t feel pressured to check the identification in front of the person. Go to a well-lit designated space, where you can examine using a magnifying glass, UV lamp and have reference materials as to what constitutes a valid identification. 

This will help you focus on the task at hand.

Features - Learn About Them

Make a list of various types of identification you are likely to encounter, for example, driver’s license, passport, permanent resident card, immigration documents, etc.

Become an expert on their specific security features which are hard to replicate, such as holograms, gradual transition of colour and embossing. Examine the security features and condition of the identification. Pay close attention to any surface defects like bubbles, cuts in the laminate, irregular lettering, spelling mistakes or other alterations.

Fast often Signals Fraud

Trust your instincts. A last-minute closing involving clients you have never met before should raise suspicion.

A person that is in a hurry, reluctant to hand over their identification or making excuses for the condition or expiry of their identification should prompt you to ask more questions and obtain further proof of identification like a utility bill.

Real Fraud Story

Sarah co-owned a house with her parents. One day, she received a foreclosure notice from a lender claiming he had a mortgage on the property, which had gone into default. The lender even advised Sarah that if the mortgage amount was not paid, he would sell the house. Sarah was in disbelief and approached Chicago Title Insurance Company Canada, who insured the title to her house.

An investigation into the case revealed that neither Sarah nor her parents signed the mortgage. Steve, a family friend, conspired with a dishonest mortgage broker to forge their signatures and issue the mortgage. Steve managed to steal the parents’ identification and created a fake ID for Sarah to authenticate the transaction.

Chicago Title retained counsel on behalf of Sarah to have the mortgage discharged from the property and clear the title. We incurred an expense of around $35,000 in legal fees.

Please note that coverage for a matter is based on the specific facts of the claim and pursuant to the terms and conditions of the particular policy issued for the transaction.

Don't have the time to verify the IDs yourself?

Use our ID Verification Service to verify the identification of your clients.

Get additional tips and resources from your Chicago Title Regional Manager.

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