May is Scams Awareness Month
and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is urging consumers buying legal services to be ‘scam aware’.
The SRA report that they have seen an increase in bogus solicitors over a period of two years and regularly release updates on their website. The scams can take a various different forms, including:
cold-calls using a real firm’s name
unsolicited emails and letters appearing to be from a real law firm
The SRA’s advice about things to keep look out for are:
a mismatch between the firm’s and individuals’ address and telephone and website details (e.g. a solicitor’s name from a different law firm), or
the contact details for the firm are incorrect, relate to a different law firm or are fictitious (e.g. a building number that doesn’t exist on the street quoted, or the street name doesn’t match the post code quoted).
a mobile number with no landlines being available
whether the firm is registered at Companies House
The SRA’s Director of Intelligence, Steve Wilmott, said:
"We will take action against anyone holding themselves out as a solicitor which is a criminal offence.
"The offenders however are extremely clever and we are urging both clients of legal services and solicitors’ firms to be on their guard. Quite often firms themselves are not aware that their information is being used to deceive.”
Scams Awareness Month is a Citizens Advice Bureau initiative and Chief Executive Gillian Guy commented:
"Scammers prey on people when they’re at their most vulnerable. People can find themselves seriously out of pocket at the hands of a bogus law firm or phoney solicitor. It’s important to take the time to carry out the necessary checks and balances to make sure the company or individual is legitimate.
"Through Scams Awareness Month we are helping people to protect themselves from scammers and urging anyone who spots a scam to report it. You can get advice about scams from our consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06, your local CAB or on adviceguide.org.uk.”