Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fraud And Risk Red Flags - Property Development Previews In Singapore

Now I'm not trying to be a smart-a** here... I am sincerely bewildered by this seemingly strange process to preview a new property development in Singapore. Also, I'm truly hoping that an estate agent or property developer could enlighten me as to the reasons why.

I've come across this a few times now - both in person when showing interest in an upcoming property launch or development and also clearly stated in brochures and direct mail delivered to my mailbox (in all cases, for the launch of new condominiums).

My concern is that if I want to 'preview' a property... that is, perhaps look at a show-flat or visit in person to the development site, I am requested to provide all of my personal details (including IC - identity card number) along with a personal cheque with the developer's project account as the payee.

Herein lies my dilemma. I am (or could be) a potential customer investigating an extremely hefty investment or perhaps ready to make a life-changing purchase. For the 'privilege' of just looking at what a 'supplier' is selling, it is demanded of me to risk handing over personally identifiable information ('PII' in financial industry terms) to a company with whom I have never dealt with before and perhaps have never even heard of... and above and beyond the information, a personal cheque is required.

Both of these requirements are huge 'red flags' when it comes to fraud and risk - whether it relates to the complexity of potential identity theft or something as simple as stealing my money. If we were talking about a financial institution, the request of such data without approval from the regulators would invite a slew of questions and potential penalties.

Yet it seems that asking for my IC and a cheque to give me the privilege of being a potential customer on a huge transaction is common practice... I still have no idea why??

According to this one website, "This is a standard developer's requirement. It helps ensure that serious buyers can pick their units without being crowded out by mere sight-seers, especially at previews where it can get rather packed"... it the goes on to say, "Your cheque will be returned to you if you decide not to proceed to buy".

So I need to ask again - WHY????

If the cheque will be returned to me should I decide not to buy, then doesn't that defeat the purpose of only 'attracting serious buyers'? Is there not a better model or lower-risk process that could be employed to manage and streamline the flow of potential customers and to differentiate between 'serious buyers' and 'sight-seers' (who, by the way, could end up being the serious customers down the track)?

As mentioned, I am completely open to feedback from developers or property agents who would like to educate me on this entire process and the reasoning behind the expectations... right now, I just find it all very, very strange.



Danica said...

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Unknown said...

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