Fraud initiative: “Why can’t estate agents also be asked to share the flyers?” asks reader

Yesterday we reported on the launch of an initiative by the Law Society and National Economic Crime Centre to alert home buyers to the dangers of being scammed while in the process to transferring monies to purchase a property.

The leaflet document was not available at the time of publishing but we have now seen a copy and can bring you the main points it contains.

Currently the initiative is only being promoted by law firms/conveyancers and Action Fraud, but as Rob Hailstone asked in the comments on the story yesterday: ‘Why can’t estate agents also be asked to share the flyers?’

Perhaps a start would be for Propertymark to have a word with the Law Society?

 

How to protect yourself from becoming a victim of conveyancing fraud

Get bank details from your law firm either in person or over the phone at the start of the conveyancing process and agree a robust mechanism by which any legitimate changes in bank details would occur, such as confirming them in person. Ask them to confirm the details by post if you’ve obtained them in person or over the phone.

Law firms rarely change their bank details. If you receive an email or telephone call stating a change in the bank details, question its authenticity. Always check
the bank details directly with YOUR lawyer or someone senior at the firm by calling them on their published telephone number.

Do not feel pressured into changing any details before you have spoken to someone from the firm. Check the email address carefully and if in doubt use a trusted phone number to check the information is correct, not the one given in the email demanding payment.

Set strong and separate passwords for your accounts, and make sure that you have anti-virus software installed on your devices; these frauds usually rely on email accounts being compromised. To create a strong password, simply choose three random words. Numbers and symbols can still be added if required.

Avoid posting on social media about buying/selling your house or getting a mortgage. Fraudsters may get hold of this information and, knowing the next step is a large financial transaction, seek to target you.

Avoid using public or unprotected Wi-Fi systems to check emails when you are buying a house. Fraudsters can easily hack into vulnerable Wi-Fi systems.

If you are making a payment to an account for the first time, transfer a small sum first and then check with the law firm using known contact details that the payment has been received.

If you have any doubt about the transaction then do not transfer your money until you are satisfied it is correct; can you afford to lose your entire deposit or the entire purchase money?

If you suspect you have been the victim of conveyancing fraud you should immediately:

Contact your bank to advise them of the fraudulent activity, asking them to contact the receiving bank to freeze the funds

Alert your lawyer; it may be that they are being targeted by criminals, who may pose a risk to other customers.

Contact Action Fraud; report suspected fraud to Action Fraud through their website:www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Fraud warning as home buyers targeted

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2 Comments

  1. MarkJ

    Best prevent the fraud in the first place …..my experiences with Action Fraud/The Police have not been positive after reporting scams/fraud in the past. Unless there are large sums involved they’re not interested….

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  2. Woodentop

    No reason agents cannot participate at their discretion if the law society would be kind enough to provide the flyers, but shouldn’t this really be done at the time of engaging and by, the conveyancer?

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