Government takes rap for boom in ID checks

The government has been blamed for home buyers’ frustration at the high number of identity checks carried out as part of the buying process.

Research carried out by Manchester Business School on behalf of fraud prevention specialist GB Group says the increase in buy-to-let and the strong housing market fuel almost two million checks in the estate agency sector each year.

It says when a home is purchased a person may have their identity checked five times or more but this could be reduced if organisations such as estate agents, solicitors, financial advisers, lenders and the Land Registry shared identity verification information.

Rob Laurence, head of GB Group’s data authentication arm, says: “Every UK citizen has to prove their identity almost once a month and life events such as marriage or moving house require multiple checks at the same time.

“The burden on consumers is unnecessary and as regulation becomes tighter across all sectors we will see more identity checks becoming a fact of life.”

Wayne Unsworth, mortgage adviser at Hallmark ifa, agrees.

He says: “All parties in the home buying process should be able to get information from the government. It’s really up to the authorities to sort out this question of too many ID checks as we are simply complying with legislation. Only the government has the power to address the issue.”

But George McKillop, managing director of fraud prevention specialist Haymarket Management Services, says while ID checks might take time they ensure consumers have protection from fraud, which over the past 15 years has been a growing threat.

He adds: “If people have nothing to hide the amount of time this takes is hardly an intrusion. And industry costs will be kept down by reducing the risk of fraud.”