New Tipline Will Make Reporting Suspicious Activity Easier
When large amounts of money are at stake and emotions are running high around a real estate transaction, it can sometimes make it difficult for individuals to come forward when they witness potential misconduct by a licensee. As part of our ongoing commitment to protecting consumers, we are introducing an anonymous Tipline, making it easier for members of the public and licensees to report suspicious activity or unethical conduct.
By recognizing and reporting misconduct or unethical practices, consumers and licensees can protect themselves and help to build a stronger, safer real estate marketplace. That’s why we want to encourage everyone to tell us whenever they see conduct that requires investigation or regulatory action.
In 2016, the Independent Advisory Group recommended that the Council set up a confidential reporting channel for industry and the public, to facilitate reporting of licensee misconduct. Often known as whistleblower programs, confidential reporting channels have proven to be key tools in the early detection of unlawful or unethical behaviour in many industries.
Information shared through whistleblower lines might otherwise not be available to investigators. Thanks to whistleblowers, regulators can detect more offences, take action earlier, and limit the consequences for victims.
To help licensees and members of the public who may have concerns about coming forward to report suspicious activity, the Council’s new tipline will allow tipsters to remain anonymous. But while tipsters don’t need to leave their names, they do need to include enough information for the Council to take action – otherwise, we can’t begin an investigation.
The information you provide will help us determine whether we should undertake an audit, launch an investigation or take other compliance action. The more details you provide, the more you can help us evaluate your lead.
Two Ways to Contact Us
The Council will be introducing a dedicated toll-free phone line for anonymous tips. Between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, trained staff will respond to calls with information and advice.
If you think that you may have witnessed contraventions of the Real Estate Services Act or Rules, you can phone us to anonymously discuss the issue and the best way to deal with the situation.
In some cases, we may recommend that you bring the matter to the attention of a managing broker. In other cases it may be appropriate to file an official complaint. We’re here to help.
We will also be introducing secure, anonymous online tip forms and complaint forms on our website. Our trained staff will assess the tips we receive to determine if an investigation may be required, and if there is sufficient evidence provided in the tip to proceed.
Your Feedback Needed
As we prepare to launch the anonymous tipline, we want to hear from you: have you considered making a complaint to the Council in the past? Would you report misconduct using an anonymous tipline?
Your feedback can help to shape this important consumer protection resource. Find more information about the tipline and how to share your comments here.
Complaints and Tips: What’s the Difference?
Tips: The Councils new anonymous tipline will give members of the public and licensees the opportunity to let us know about suspicious activities, while protecting their identities. We want you to feel safe about reporting information to us. But because no names are provided, we won’t be able to follow up with you. That means that if your tip doesn’t include enough information, we may not be able to investigate.
Complaints: The Council has an obligation to open an investigation file for every complaint we receive. We’ll contact you to acknowledge that we’ve received your complaint and we may follow up to request more information or key documents. Our investigations are confidential, unless and until a hearing is called into the matter.
It’s important to report suspected misconduct
Licensees are required by law to report misconduct by other licensees when they are aware of it. As a licensee, you have a critical role to ensure that the public interest is protected at all times.
Whenever you believe that consumers are at risk from another licensee’s actions, you have a duty to promptly report the conduct to your managing broker, who can bring it to the attention of the Real Estate Council.
Ignoring potential misconduct when you observe it puts the public, and the reputation of the real estate profession, at risk.
For more information visit: www.recbc.ca/complaints/complaint.html