Why do solicitors need to check your identity?

When you instruct a Solicitor to buy or sell a house for you they will always ask for proof of your identity and address. Whilst providing ID might seem like a chore there are a number of reasons why we need to do this and why it is important.

Firstly Solicitors need to check that you are the person genuinely involved in the transaction and that you are legally entitled to buy or sell the property. Mortgage and property frauds are unfortunately on the increase so there is more need to be vigilant.

Fraudsters sometimes impersonate others to sell property they do not own. If you are buying a property is it not your Solicitor’s role to verify the identity of the seller, it is for the seller’s Solicitor to do this. However, if you believe there is any risk the seller is not who they claim to be you should raise your concerns.

Identity checks are also required to prevent Money Laundering, associated financial crime, and the funding of terrorism. Solicitors need to ensure that they do not become involved in acting for persons involved in any of these kinds of activities, and have requirements to comply with.

You will be asked to provide:-

  • Photo ID – photo card driving licence or current passport; and
  • Proof of address – such as recent bank or card statement, or utility bill

Usually this will be straight forward, but sometimes it can prove more difficult if you have recently changed your name, or are without a current fixed address.

For companies, we also need to carry out additional checks on the company, as well as carrying out personal checks on the directors.

We act for many clients who buying and selling properties in Kendal, Windermere and the South Lakes regions. Our Solicitors take these responsibilities very seriously as the rules are there to protect everybody.

Published 11 September 2017

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