Tips for avoiding property scams in Thailand

August 31, 2021 - Reading time: 10 minutes

Thailand has a reputation as being a place where foreigners can be taken advantage of. There are indeed some complicated rules when it comes to foreigners purchasing and owning property in Thailand… We suggest that you fully understand the law and how to correctly navigate it for your situation before deciding to pull the trigger on a property purchase.

As a detective agency, we aim to prevent our clients from falling victim to many different forms of scam. As such, we have put together the following obvious tips which can help you to avoid property scams in Thailand:

1. Avoid buy off-plan 

Buying “off-plan” simply means purchasing a property before it has actually been built. Whether you are purchasing a house or a condominium, buying off-plan often allows for flexible payment terms – you might be able to pay a small deposit, and then make several more payments as the property is being constructed.

However, there have been many documented cases where building projects have failed to get off the ground. Perhaps the development company was not able to secure enough investment, or they ran into issues with zoning or construction permits. Whatever the issue, if construction is halted you risk losing money. We suggest avoiding off-plan purchases for this reason.

The Waterfront Suites condo building in Pattaya

Photo: The infamous Waterfront Suites condominium building at Bali Hai Pier in Pattaya has remained unfinished and derelict for over 6 years, after city officials halted construction citing allegations that the building differed from previously approved construction designs. The building is one of numerous unfinished projects which can be found in the Pattaya area. The building stands in a prominent position besides the large "Pattaya city" sign which is embedded in the hillside.

2. Use a lawyer

You probably wouldn’t purchase a property without a lawyer in your home country, so why would you act differently in Thailand? We recommend that you always use a lawyer when purchasing property in Thailand. 

Find an independent law firm – not one that was recommended by the seller or development company, and thoroughly check the reviews for your lawyer before deciding to go ahead with them. A good lawyer can help you to avoid making costly mistakes.

Do not deal with lawyers who immediately demand an up-front fee for handling your case. Pay them as you go. Up front fees can be anything from 50,000 THB up to 1,000,000 THB. Thai people do not pay their lawyers massive up front fees.

3. Be wary about holding companies

There are some exceptions, but for the most part foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand. Indeed, the phrase “Every inch of Thailand belongs to the Thais” is included in the first verse of the Thai national anthem.

In order to forego the rules on land ownership, some foreigners might setup holding companies, of which they will own 49%, in order to purchase land. The remaining 51% of shares will be owned by Thai people – usually nominee shareholders. You may find a lawyer or barstool lawyer that swears by this approach, and some people may use it without encountering problems, however, we would recommend exercising caution.

Make no mistake about it – setting up a holding company using nominee shareholders for the sole purpose of owning land is completely illegal. That means if your company is audited then you risk losing everything. If other shareholders conspire against you then you risk losing everything.

In recent years we have seen numerous crackdowns on the improper use of Thai registered companies, with many foreigners finding themselves in hot water.

A popular alternative to holding companies is acquiring a 30 year lease over land on which a property sits; for many expats in the later years of their lives that are retiring to Thailand, a 30 year lease will be adequate for their needs.

4. Avoid “do it all” firms

We recommend being very wary of foreigners who run offices which sell property, provide legal advice/consultancy and offer investment or insurance policies all at the same time. The adage ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none’ is relevant to this type of setup. It is best to find a specialist in any respective field.

Fraud alert sign

5. Check control over utilities

Whether you are purchasing a house or an apartment/condominium in Thailand, always check that the common land, water and electricity will not be controlled by the developer. Some developers will seek to profit on utilities by marking up their cost and pocketing the difference.

6. Be wary of ‘foreign villages or mubans’

Bear in mind that if you buy property inside a 'foreign village or muban', that you will not have Thais to help you if the deal goes belly up. Living with foreigners is no guarantee that you will have good neighbours. It is often the reverse.

7. Be mindful when paying a deposit 

If you are paying a deposit for a house or property, then make sure that you receive a receipt, or preferably a signed contract which clearly stipulates that a deposit has been paid. Do not pay a deposit before you have received legal advice on the proposition from a lawyer.

Whenever you are parting with money in Thailand, whether for a product, service, or especially as a deposit of any type, do not expect that you will be able to receive a refund.

8. Check the surrounding area

When you are deciding to purchase a property in Thailand, be very mindful about the surrounding area. Consider taking a drive around the local vicinity during a storm – does water drain off the roads or are the roads flooded and impassable? If the road leading to your property turns into a river during heavy rain, then you may feel as though you have been scammed. 

Car stuck on a flooded road in Thailand

Photo: Thailand tends to experience a lot of rainfall during the wet season. Make sure that the infrastructure in your area is capable of adequately dispersing the water.

It’s also worthwhile being mindful of vacant land surrounding your development. Especially in metropolitan areas, land is often bought up and developed with little notice. If your property has a sea view, could that be removed or tainted by a nearby development?

9. Speak to the local people

This may seem like a frivolous point, however speaking to the local people in any given area can often uncover many details which you would never find out by researching a property or area through the internet. Local people will be fully aware of the pitfalls of their area and any potential issues with your chosen development. Thais are friendly people and will typically be glad to share their opinions and the local gossip. Suffice it to say that you will need a Thai person to help you make these inquiries if you are unable to speak the Thai language.

This is definitely a taboo subject, however, if you are purchasing an apartment or a condominium unit on a high floor, especially in location such as Pattaya, you should be mindful that no-one has previously committed suicide in or from the unit. Most Thai people are highly superstitious and would not dream of living in a unit where a suicide has previously taken place. Even if it doesn’t bother you, you might struggle to resell such a unit.

We suggest conducting your own research by speaking with other people in your building or development, in addition to the obvious due diligence checks which should be conducted by your lawyer.

10. Be skeptical of ‘guaranteed returns’

If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You would be wise to harbour a deep scepticism for developers or agencies which offer ‘guaranteed rental returns’ on property investments. Some developers may claim that they can guarantee annual returns of up to 10%, or more in some cases; which would mean recouping 100% of your investment over a decade. 

Ask yourself, what is being guaranteed and by whom? Is the guarantee being offered by a bank or financial institution, or is it being underwritten by a development company which has no real capital?

Due to the strict libel laws in Thailand, it would be deeply unwise to point fingers at specific schemes which have collapsed over the years. We suggest that the best defence in most cases is your own common sense.

11. Don’t buy property in someone else’s name

Last but not least, we would suggest that you never purchase a property in someone else’s name, unless you accept that it will truly be their property and that they can ask you to leave at any time. If you decide to take this path, then you should at least arrange to formally lease the property back from them for however long you intend to live there.

Purchasing a property in the name of your Thai wife might afford more legal protection than if the property is placed in your girlfriend’s name, however, this is a complicated legal matter for which you should seek advice from a qualified lawyer - this article does not constitute legal advice.

Unpaid fines to appear on Thai criminal records

June 23, 2022 - Reading time: 6 minutes

An article published by the Bangkok Post claims that Thai motorists who refuse to pay their fines will now face more severe enforcement and possible arrest under new measures announced by the Royal Thai Police (RTP).

Those subject to fines will face multiple warnings before police resort to issuing arrest warrants.

First, a subject will be issued with a deadline to pay their fine, whether that fine was issued on the spot or through postal mail, Pol Maj Gen Jirasan Kaewsaeng-ek, who is deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) was quoted as saying in the article.

Cars and motorbikes driving on a road in the metropolitan Bangkok area

If the fine is not paid, then a written warning will be sent within 15 days of the deadline. They will then be afforded an additional 15 days to make payment. Multiple payment options are available, from bank transfer to over-the-counter service at convenience stores, by mail, or in person at a police station. Failure to heed the warnings may result in up to two summonses being issued.

The deputy commissioner is reported as saying that if the summonses were ignored then the police will ask the courts to issue arrest warrants. Pol Maj Gen Jirasan continued to say that arrest warrants would be enforceable all over the country and that those attempting to leave the country with outstanding arrest warrants could be apprehended by police.

Furthermore, the offence relating to an unpaid fine would be listed on the subject’s Thai criminal record, which could hinder their chances of finding a job if their employer decides to run a background check on them, or if a background check is necessary for their field of work.

Applying for credit from a bank or other financial institution might also be hindered by the presence of a criminal record caused by unpaid fines.

Criminal background check

Bangkok comment that while the failure to pay fines is not itself a serious offence, some employers might view it as a signal of insubordinate behaviour from their candidate. If the candidate is applying for a role which involves trust, handling cash, or providing financial advice to others, for example, then most employers will expect their candidate to have a reasonable grasp of their own financial affairs. We think it's fair to assume that failing to pay fines is not usually a trait which most people (and employers) tend to associate with responsible behaviour.

According to one statistic which was published by Nation Thailand in 2018, out of 13.5 million fines, 83 percent (just over 11 million) were unpaid at the time of the article's publication. Authorities are thought to hope that the new measures will decrease the number of fines which are not paid.

If you are an employer that is looking to recruit people in Thailand then you might choose to perform a preemployment background check on your prospective employees. Not only can such a background check confirm whether the candidates have charges relating to unpaid fines, a standard check would also reveal whether they have other potentially more serious criminal charges on file.

Employment background checks can also help to confirm the subject's identity; they might also encompass reference checks from past employers/educational institutions or checks on the subject's lifestyle. Much can depend on the needs and requirements of our client, with many job roles requiring an understandable level of increased scrutiny concerning the subject's background and their overall integrity.

Background screening in Thailand

We can help to perform background screening in Thailand for a variety of different reasons. Whether you require are an employer looking to perform an employment background check, or would like to perform checks as part of a premarital or romantic background check; checking an individual through background screening can help to confirm that everything is as it should be, and to provide peace of mind.

Our background screening services are completely private and confidential. Whether you need to screen a candidate using an employment background check, or check a romantic partner from Thailand, we can help.

Employment screening in Thailand

We can help whether you are an employer looking to hire people from Thailand, or simply looking to screen domestic workers (such as nannies/housekeepers/maids) in Thailand. Employment background checks can help to mitigate from risk of theft, fraud, or repetitional damage which may result from hiring the wrong person.

We offer an effective and discreet service with the fastest possible turnaround times and our service is strictly private and confidential. Please feel free to get in touch with us for a free quote if you are interested in running a background check, or click through our website for more information about us and the different services that we offer.

Employment background screening

Learn more about background screening or visit our homepage.

Sources: Bangkok Post, Nation Thailand

Trace a phone number in Thailand service

June 20, 2022 - Reading time: 4 minutes

Do you need to trace a Thai phone number? Perhaps a family member or loved one has gone missing in Thailand and you would like us to find out where they are, or to retrace their last visited locations before they disappeared in order to locate them and safeguard their welfare.

We can help to trace phone numbers in Thailand in order to find locations where the number was last active. Our fee for this service is 9,990 THB including tax. If we cannot trace the number then we will not charge you. 

OSINT investigations

How does your phone number tracing service work? 

As a leading private detective agency based in Thailand, we have developed a cutting edge method of tracing phone numbers which relies on 'OSINT' investigative techniques. This service is fully legal as it entails the acquisition of data through open source and compliant methods.

The phone number tracing service can identify locations where the subject's phone number was last active and can be used in order to locate missing persons in some cases.

How much is 9,990 THB in dollars?

If we are able to trace a phone number for you, then you will need to pay us 9,990 THB before receiving the results of our trace. We recommend searching Google for 'how much is 9990 THB in dollars?' in order to get a rough idea of how much this would cost in your local currency.

How can I order a phone number trace?

If you would like to order a phone number trace then please complete our contact form. We will need to understand why you are ordering the trace from us. If we are able to trace the number for you then you will need to pay us 9,990 THB before receiving the results.

Can you trace phone numbers from other countries?

No. This service is offered exclusively for Thai phone numbers.

How can you help to find missing people?

If we are trying to locate a missing person and no other information is available besides their phone number, then we would need to utilise a phone number trace in order to find any locations of interest. From there we can carry out site visits (this would mean visiting a specific location and interviewing people there), or place any locations of interest under surveillance. Surveillance would entail sitting outside the property for many hours and observing anyone entering or leaving, with the ultimate goal of locating the subject and collecting evidence in the form of photos/video.

Please note that our phone number tracing service does not include any site visits or personal surveillance. If you decide that you would like us to conduct either after running a phone number trace then additional fees will apply; our fees would depend on the location of the assignment.

We can use a variety of different techniques in order to locate people and find missing individuals. However, much depends on the subjective circumstances in each case. We are not able to trace all phone numbers, and in some cases the information may be so scarce that we are unable to help. We are not able to accept all tracing requests if the nature of the case does not fall within our company's strict ethical code of conduct. Suffice it to say that we reserve the right not to accept cases for any reason.

We offer free, no pressure quotes for all work. If you require our help to find a missing person then please feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced team members, we will do our best to understand your situation and offer a free quote if we are able to help. Rest assured that if you decide not to pursue a case then all of your data and communications will be securely deleted from our system.

Hiring a nanny or housekeeper/maid in Thailand

August 27, 2021 - Reading time: 10 minutes

Many foreigners that decide to relocate to Thailand will take the step of hiring a Thai nanny or housekeeper/maid. The cost of labour in Thailand is generally lower than in Western countries, and this is especially true for menial work. Hiring a nanny or housekeeper here, to help look after children, or for help with housework, is an affordable luxury for many expatriates.

Allowing a stranger into your home, and trusting them with your children or belongings is a big deal for many people. As a detective agency, we are occasionally asked to investigate thefts which were thought to have been committed by domestic workers. As such, we have put together this article on hiring nannies, housekeepers or maids, with a focus on safety and diligence.

Salary for a nanny or housekeeper/maid in Thailand

How much does it cost to hire a nanny/housekeeper or maid? When hiring staff in Thailand, you will obviously need to pay them at least the minimum wage, which varies depending upon the Thai province you are based in. A housekeeper would typically earn slightly more than the minimum wage, and salaries for nannies are understandably higher, depending on the duties you require them for.

If your nanny is looking after a new born, then expect to pay them a higher salary than if they are tending to older children. It’s also normal for English speaking workers to come with a slightly higher price tag.

Although there are many variables at play when hiring domestic workers, the following chart can help to act as a rough guide: 

Salaries for nannies and housekeepers in Thailand

Many factors can influence salaries, such as the area of Thailand you are in, as well as your worker’s past experience, the duties they will be expected to carry out, and the level of English spoken by them.

Where to find a nanny or housekeeper/maid in Thailand?

Many of our clients that come to us for employment background checks decide to find a nanny or housekeeper themselves, rather than using an agency to act as a middleman. Hiring workers directly can help to cut out agency fees and ensure that your worker receives fair compensation for their work.

One of the most popular methods used by our clients to find workers in Thailand is through Facebook... There are numerous different Facebook groups for those seeking employment in various areas of Thailand, for example "Jobs in Bangkok" or "Jobs in Phuket".

Below are some examples of people seeking to find workers in Thailand using Facebook groups:

Facebook post seeking a nanny in Thailand

A Facebook posts advertising a nanny position in Thailand

If you do make the decision to find a worker using this method, then we would certainly recommend following the tips in this article to help ensure that you are hiring the right person, and to safeguard your home/family.

Safety when hiring a nanny or housekeeper

This is a subject that you will not see broached in most other articles on the subject of hiring workers in Thailand. However, we feel it is important to be mindful when allowing strangers into your home, and that you take suitable steps to protect yourself should anything go awry.

For starters, whenever you are employing a Thai nanny, maid, or housekeeper, you should ask them to provide you with a copy of their Thai national ID card. 

Whether or not you decide to sign a formal contract with your worker, you should always retain a copy of their ID card. This is perfectly normal for employers in Thailand and your nanny or housekeeper should have no issues with providing a copy of their ID card.

If you have any issues with your nanny or housekeeper down the road, such as theft from your property, then your copy of their identity card will prove vital. However, be aware that counterfeits are easy to come by in Thailand and fake ID cards are common, especially for migrants that might not be in the country legally. In areas such as Khaosod Road for example, vendors can be found openly selling fake documents and identity cards. If you are found to be employing an illegal immigrant, then you might find yourself in trouble with the authorities.

We can help to check that the ID card is genuine by verifying it against official records.

Criminal background check

We can also help to run a criminal record check on your nanny or housekeeper in order to verify that they are not entering your home from a criminal background, and that they do not have any outstanding arrest warrants. 

Running a criminal background check on your workers is always a wise decision. If you are hiring a nanny who will be tasked with looking after your children, then we suggest it is even more vital.

Pre-employment screening is one of our most popular services. If you are on the brink of hiring a nanny, housekeeper, or any Thai staff, and would like to check their criminal records before deciding to hire, then feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced team members for a free quote. We will seek to offer the best and most affordable solution in your case.

If you choose to run a background check on your nanny or housekeeper, then you will be expected to pay for it yourself.

Tips for hiring a nanny or housekeeper/maid

  • Outline your requirements before hiring

Before hiring a nanny or housekeeper, make sure that they totally understand your requirements and what will be expected of them. Explain to them in detail what an average day will entail and your expectations for them. Run everything by them beforehand and don’t leave anything to chance.

  • Pay your staff well

Paying your staff the absolute minimum amount will likely result in them leaving you for a better paid position when the opportunity arises. If you intend to retain your staff long term, and keep their morale and eagerness to work high, then award them with a good salary.

  • Give respect, get respect

Treat your workers kindly and with respect. Speak to them politely – it will go a long way. Be aware that many Thai people find swearing to be highly offensive. If your housekeeper or nanny goes above and beyond their duties, then consider giving them a small tip. They will appreciate the gesture.

  • Respect their time off

When your staff are not working, be that out of their allotted time on a workday or during public holidays, don’t expect them to carry out any duties for you. 

Many Thais leave their families to work in metropolitan areas and use public holidays to return home and visit their families. Keep this in mind when requesting them to work overtime.

  • Check their references

Thai people are hard workers. However, not all of them are! You would be wise to check the references of your Thai nannies or housekeepers in order to learn more about their previous conduct before deciding to hire them.

If needed, we can also help to carry out reference checks for you.

Normal working hours

A full time house keeper, maid, or nanny in Thailand will typically expect to work 9 hours per day Monday to Friday with a 1 hour break each day, and half a day on Saturday. A minimum of 1 day off per week is required, though you may be able to negotiate overtime occasionally for extra pay.

In addition, your worker will also be entitled to public holidays off, such as the following:

  • His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s birthday – July 28
  • His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday – December 5
  • Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana's Birthday – June 3
  • May Day – May 1 (or the Monday after if the 1st is during a weekend)
  • Coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn – May 4
  • Coronation Day – May 5
  • Songkran (water festival) 13–15 April (dates may vary slightly)
  • New Year’s Eve – 31 December
  • New Year’s Day – 1 January
  • Chulalongkorn Day – 22/23 October

This is not a full list of public holidays in Thailand! There are several other public holidays however we have listed some of the most prominent dates.

As Thai people often work long hours and with little time off, they typically relish the opportunity to rest during public holidays. You should discuss and agree upon which dates your worker will be expected to work at the time of hiring them. 

Employment background screening

Learn more about employment background screening.

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