Agents fear fraud losses

by 03 Jul 2015
Ontario’s electronic transaction law to allow real estate documents to be signed electronically is raising concerns about potential fraud even as many agents applaud it.

“I’ve had some of my deals delayed for up to 48 hours or more because people can’t get all the documents together, or aren’t near a printer or a fax machine,” said Ian, a Toronto-based real estate agent speaking to REP on condition of anonymity. “It’s more realistic for this time but the concern of course is that people are going to have to take steps to protect themselves and use privacy measures. People could be opening themselves up to fraud.”

Effective Wednesday, changes to the Electronic Commerce Act will also buyers and sellers to use electronic signatures instead of hard copy documents, something expected to make things easier for real estate transactions while saving time on both sides.

The industry player’s comments come just a month after a real estate agent in Ontario had her Gmail account hacked, ultimately costing a client $10,000. According to an article on Globalnews.ca, a Cambridge, Ont., woman, Kaitlyn DiMarco, purchased a home this past May, with her agent, Tina Goldrick, conducting much of the business through email exchange.

When Goldrick’s account was hacked, DiMarco was asked to pay $10,000 for title insurance, which she did thinking it was her agent when in fact it was the hacker requesting the payment.

The realty Goldrick worked under has refused to pay for the mix-up. 

Despite the difference in details, it’s a scenario that agents feel could occur if consumers don’t properly protect themselves, leaving agents to deal with potential blowouts. That’s almost inevitable, they argue, pointing to 205,720 real estate transactions in Ontario for 2014, alone.
 

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