Pattie Lovett-Reid: Why mortgage fraud may be on the rise in Canada
Some mortgage applicants are fudging the truth to land the home they desire, according to an Equifax Canada study.
There was a 52 per cent increase in suspected fraudulent activity in mortgage applications since 2013, according to the report released on Wednesday.
"We're certainly seeing more mortgage applications being flagged as suspicious by our reporting institutions," Tara Zecevic, vice-president of customer insight at Equifax Canada, said in a release. "While we cannot entirely attribute these increases to consumers overstating personal income or falsifying applications, we do want to remind people that there are serious consequences for making false or inaccurate claims on any loan or mortgage applications.”
‘Falsified account statements’ and ‘falsified documents’ led the application tags most flagged by investigators.
Two-thirds of the applications flagged over the study period originated from Ontario. British Columbia came in second, accounting for 12 per cent of the reported applications.
Equifax also released the results of an online survey that tracked Canadian homebuyers’ habits and opinions.
The mortgage fraud questionnaire revealed that 13 per cent of Canadians believed it acceptable to tell ‘a little white lie’ when applying for mortgages, while 16 per cent believed mortgage fraud to be a victimless crime.
Meanwhile, 84 per cent of respondents believed the cost of home ownership is too high for first-time buyers.
Zecevic cautioned against falsifying applications, citing the habits outlined in the survey as problematic on several fronts.
“Not only will it stretch your finances, it is in breach of your contractual obligations with the lender,” she said. “And, simply put, it's against the law."