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To what extent do you need to id your customer / ISC meetings
March 16, 2022
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To what extent do you need to id your customer
          We have a homeowner that is deceased and a sister is moving into the house.  The sister is asking for certificate of insurance in the maiden name, same as deceased sister, and the last name in the email from the sister is different.  We sent over an updated contract for her to sign with last name from the email.  Should we ask for proof of name before changing?
          What appears to be a relatively simple question actually raises a few interesting issues. 
          Apparently your customer is now deceased.  That raises the issue of whether you want to hold the deceased estate, if there is one, to the balance of the contract.  It may not be cost effective to get involved in this but it may also be as simple as waiting for a default in payment, accelerating the balance due on the contract and sending a final invoice to the customer, hoping it reaches the estate administrator.  Once you know who the estate administrator is you can send the final invoice to that estate representative and if you know if the estate is being probated then the claim for payment goes to the Probate Court to be included in distribution of the estate.  OK, that’s not happening here, so let’s move one.
          A new occupant, if not new owner, is taking possession.  She has asked for a “certificate of insurance” undoubtedly because she has obtained new homeowners insurance and is looking for a discount, or perhaps the coverage isn’t available at all without a working alarm.  You have done the right thing by sending a new contract, a Residential All in One, for the new occupant to sign.  The first cardinal rule is do no security or fire alarm work without a contract. 
          The new occupant has requested continued alarm coverage.  You sent a contract and presumably inserted the name of the customer.  How do you know the name is correct?  Good question, because it is essential that you know the name of your customer and that named customer’s relationship with the property or the entity that claims to own or have occupancy rights to the property.  In other words, how do you know that Jane Doe is who she says she is?  And, why does it matter?  Well for one thing it will matter if you want to pursue enforcement of the contract [collections] against this customer because a customer with a fictitious name is going to be next to impossible to go after and collect.  An unknown signor of your agreement could end up causing problems in the event of a claim against you by occupants of the house or even neighbors or other third parties because your contract may be in question if you can’t identify a real person. 
          On the other hand we don’t need blood work to confirm identity. You can rely on a driver’s license or other government issued picture id.  If they don’t have that then I’d be suspect.  You should copy the driver’s license [passport, government id with picture, maybe some license with a picture on it].  While this advice may have been impractical it’s clearly easily done because you certainly carry a cell phone that takes pictures.  Use it. 

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301