Protect Yourself from Conveyancing Fraud
Conveyancing fraud is one of the fastest-growing fraud types in the UK. First-time buyers can be more at risk because of their lack of knowledge of the Conveyancing process, although anyone is vulnerable.
There are some really simple steps you can take to protect yourself when you’re buying a property and we’ll talk you through them.
Having an awareness of the issues will help you to protect yourself and your property.
For free initial advice contact our Conveyancers and Conveyancing Solicitors.
How Does Conveyancing Fraud Work?
Because email is such a normal method of communication, fraudsters are targeting email communications between the Conveyancing Solicitor and their client.
This is the most common type of Conveyancing fraud.
You’ll receive an email asking for your deposit to be paid for your property purchase. The email will provide bank details to pay the deposit into. The email looks like it’s from your Conveyancing Solicitor but it’s really from a fraudster trying to get hold of your deposit money.
The fraudsters have either hacked into your Conveyancing Solicitors email or they have produced an email which looks like it’s from them. Either way, they could intercept your money.
How Can I Protect Myself from Conveyancing Fraud?
Before you get completely freaked out and never email your Solicitor again, there are ways you can tell the difference between a genuine email and one that’s come from a scammer and there are things you can do to protect yourself.
Don’t Accept a Change of Bank Details by email – many people would not even think about questioning a change of bank details from their Solicitor during a purchase but this is one of the main ways that fraudsters work. They divert the money that should be paid to your Solicitor into a bank account of their own. Once the money is transferred to their account, it’s unlikely it can ever be tracked down.
Many Solicitors will now tell you that their bank details won’t change through the transaction, but to be safe, call the law firm using the telephone number on your paperwork or from the website and ask for confirmation of their bank details over the phone. Don’t use any telephone number on the email as this may go straight to the fraudsters.
Check the Email Carefully – when you look carefully at fraudulent emails, there are usually some small things that are not quite right which will give them away. The spelling and grammar may be slightly off and the email probably won’t read quite right.
If there are any links in the email, hover your mouse over the link but do not click it and look at the bottom left side of your browser. You should see the link address. You would expect any link from your Solicitor to come from their website. So our link would look like this http://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/contact-us/. Many fraudulent emails will have links that do not go to the law firm’s website. This should raise your suspicions.
Also, check the email address the email was sent from. Again, this probably won’t be from the firm’s email address. Do check carefully though as some fraudsters have hacked email accounts so even have the name of the person dealing with your purchase and the address may look very similar.
Call Your Conveyancing Solicitor – if you do get an email asking you to send money, call your Conveyancer or Conveyancing Solicitor to check if they sent it. Make sure you only use the phone number from your paperwork or from the website.
Simpson Millar Take Conveyancing Fraud Seriously
We’re always on our guard and looking out for suspicious activities and we take our role in preventing Conveyancing fraud seriously but we need your help too.
You Conveyancer or Conveyancing Solicitor will completely understand if you want to talk to them because you need to check bank details or if you’ve received an email asking for money to be transferred, so please don’t hesitate to contact us.
If you’ve had an email from someone pretending to be us, please do let us know so we can report it.
Remember, take the few extra minutes to complete the necessary checks on any emails you get asking you to send money or click links as they may not be genuine. We all lead busy lives, but make those few minutes count.
Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Southport.