New Measures to Combat Cyber Crime

What is Cyber Crime and how is it a threat to you?

Cyber Crime typically involves the hacking of personal or commercially sensitive information by means of the internet.

In most cases these attacks are perpetrated by Organised Crime Groups who have the resources available to carry out sophisticated and targeted attacks on individuals and businesses.

A growing problem

As you may already be aware of there has been a growing number of banking scams and other such cyber-attacks in the recent media.

It is increasingly important to be conscious of the dangers of Cyber Crime when disclosing any sensitive information to your solicitor.

In light of this we have introduced new measures to protect you and your business against any potentially fraudulent activity.

How Cyber Crime is being carried out and what to look out for

Whilst there are various means of cybercriminals gaining access to sensitive information; one of the most commonly used is ‘Corporate Impersonation’ otherwise known as ‘Phishing’.

emails purporting to be from your solicitor will be sent to you stating that the firm’s bank details have changed and will then encourage you to send money to the new account.

Other scams involve bogus phone calls from fraudsters pretending to be solicitors, banking staff, police officers or other “officials” with the same aim of encouraging you to disclose bank details or personal information.

How can we work together to prevent this type of fraud?

Special attention is given to email or verbal instructions for funds transfers in order to prevent e-mail hacking (against us or our clients) being used as a basis for diverting funds.

We have procedures for checking our clients’ accounts details, and validating any instructions regarding funds transfer.

Email is not on its own a reliable or secure communications method. We are unable to transfer funds to a bank account that is notified by email, especially if altered or ‘last-minute’, without making further checks.

We also take steps to avoid acting on instructions from fraudsters impersonating bank staff, Police Officers or other “officials” and revealing online banking user credentials and account information. You should do all you can to protect yourselves from this type of threat too.

As a precaution, we ask our clients to be vigilant of any emails asking you to pay money into any other bank account other than our genuine account, the details of which are provided below.

Clients are advised to do all they can to keep their email accounts and personal data secure and take care with high value transactions.

Our solicitors will always advise how to transfer money to us securely and we ask you to report any unusual emails to us. If in doubt, please check with your solicitor before transferring any large sums.

What we are doing to protect your money

In order to prevent this type of fraud we must follow these practical steps.

1. Clients need to provide us with their bank details (to include sort code, bank account number and name of the account) at the outset of the transaction, preferably at a face-to-face meeting or in writing in a letter (but not by email).

2. Where possible we need to verify these bank details against a cheque book, paying in book, or statement.

3. If there is a likelihood that changes may be needed, and verification will be impractical, an agreed code word may be provided for use for discussing financial transactions.

4. The firm’s banking details will be given to the client at the outset of the transaction and these will not be changed unless we write to you and confirm this in person. Clients must report to us immediately if anyone tells them that these bank details have changed.

5. Changes to clients’ instructions for funds transfer will be treated suspiciously such that:

Any changes should be made in person, whereby identity will be re-checked.

Remote instructions, (by letter, phone, email, text etc.) must be validated by talking to the client to authenticate the instructions. The phone call must be instigated by us using contact details originally provided for contact on the matter. Unique and common knowledge, for instance about the matter or subjects involved may be used to further authenticate the client.

Report anything suspicious

Please note that we will do not anticipate any change to our bank accounts throughout the duration of our work on your matter. You must report to us immediately if anyone tells you that these bank details have changed.

If you feel that any correspondence is of a suspicious nature please check with us before sending any funds.

To find out more about Cyber Crime and how to protect yourself and your business go to: http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/crime-threats/cyber-crime

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This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.