PEXA: Dispelling the myth from the facts

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Melina addresses the elephant in the room dispelling the myth from the facts about PEXA and electronic settlements.

 

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, two Victorians recently lost $1.25 million between them, due to a computer hack. Similar stories were aired on Nine News and news.com.au

Property Exchange Australia’s e-transfer system is already mandatory for some transfers of title in NSW with the balance of transfers becoming mandatory from 1 July 2019.

 

So what happened…

Based on the information provided by the legal industry and the media, we understand that the Conveyancers emails were hacked. The hackers obtained the Conveyancers PEXA login information from their emails and used them to log into the PEXA system. Once logged into the system as the Conveyancer, they added themselves as a user. From here they entered their account details for the surplus funds in place of the owner’s.

 

What have PEXA done since this happened…

Since the computer hack, PEXA have implemented a number of additional security measures including increased monitoring of accounts to detect unusual activity, changing the way new users are added to the system, introducing a two-step login process and a Residential Seller Guarantee.

We recently experienced this first hand. We had a new staff member join the property team and added her as a user in the PEXA system. This staff member was not immediately able to access the system. Instead, a member of the PEXA team phoned the office to confirm it was, in fact, our office that added the user. Only once this was confirmed with PEXA over the phone did they allow this additional user to start accessing the system.

The two-step login process, which has also been implemented since the hacking incident was reported, involves a login with a password and a code. The code is sent to a mobile device, once the email address and password are entered. Only after inserting both the password and then the code sent to the mobile device can you enter the PEXA system.

The PEXA Residential Seller Guarantee provides protection to sellers in the event of fraud. It gives the seller the option to make a claim under the Guarantee, rather than trying to recover the costs another way if their funds have been misdirected.

 

What should I consider as a seller or a buyer whose transaction may be completed in PEXA…

  • PEXA has assured the industry that the platform is secure
  • The incidents were isolated – our firm has been transacting in PEXA since 2015. We have not encountered any incidents where funds were misdirected and all our clients have been very pleased with the system
  • Ask your Conveyancer about the security systems and procedures they have in place to protect against hackers

Stay tuned for more information about PEXA and e-conveyancing as we get closer to the mandating dates.

For further information contact:

Melina Constantino
Licensed Conveyancer
melina@couttslegal.com.au
02 4607 2104