Law Society’s latest Practice Note – Protecting your firm if you fall victim to a scam

Law Society’s latest Practice Note – Protecting your firm if you fall victim to a scam

On 20th August the Law Society released a new Practice Note to aid solicitors in their understanding of actions to be taken if their firm falls victim to a scam. Yet more proof, if we needed it, that law firms need to ensure that they are aware of and understand this very real risk. We know from the latest Risk Outlook that the scammers are still rife and bogus law firms are the blight of the industry. In 2014 there were 183 alerts issued by the industry regulator and over 700 reports received.

Falling victim to a scam is damaging not only for the client whose money is lost, but also to the firms’ reputation; either if a firm is cloned or mistakenly deals with a fraudster.

In its introduction the Note identifies whom it is most pertinent to; Managing partners, practice managers and staff of firms which hold a client account and who are responsible for:

  • The secure management of the client account
  • The firm’s information security
  • The management and day-to-day operation of the practice
  • The firm’s professional indemnity insurance (PII)
  • Business continuity management and handling their clients’ business when something goes wrong

In addition this Note is also relevant for COLP and COFAs.

Most significantly the note reiterates the importance of the adherence to the SRA principles and mandatory outcomes which include Principle 5 ‘acting in the best interests of each client’, Principle 10 ‘protecting client money and assets’, Outcome (1.1) You treat your clients fairly and Outcome (1.2) You provide services to your clients in a manner which protects their interests in their matter, subject to the proper administration of justice.

The Note goes on to provide information on recovering the client account, recovering your business, reviewing your incident response policy and lessons learnt. Further help can be found on the website for the Action Fraud National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre. It is also appropriate for practitioners to note that the SRA issued further guidance in June 2015 with their warning notice which gives guidance on money missing from client account.

Clearly taking preventative steps and implementing measures which help mitigate this ever increasing risk is best – prevention is always better than cure.

By being more aware of the pitfalls that can occur you and your firm will be more able to help thwart the criminals.

Lawyer Checker always strives to keep industry peers aware of current news and seeks to assist conveyancers in the fight against the bogus law firm. To find out more about our service visit www.lawyerchecker.co.uk or call 0800 133 7127.

This article was submitted to be published by Lawyer Checker as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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Provider of market-leading risk management solutions to the legal sector.

Lawyer Checker is a leading provider of risk management solutions to the legal sector, offering a full inclusive suite of products and services which have one thing in common – they are all designed to protect and to promote your firm.

Our expert understanding of the legal sector means that we are in a unique position to ensure that your business is protected from the main threats without delay.

We are committed to being proactive when it comes to caring for our clients, and to getting them onto a platform where they are safer.

What does Lawyer Checker do?

Our suite of fraud prevention and cyber security products include:

Thirdfort

Thirdfort is the latest in Lawyer Checker's innovative suite of products helping to defend law firms against the persistent threats lurking in the legal sector, by providing enhanced due diligence to source of funds and ID checks. It uses a mobile app to digitally confirm a client's identity by combining facial recognition technology with document scanning and open banking, enabling you to confidently “Know Your Customer." Find out more >

Account and Entity Screen (AES)

AES provides your firm with enhanced risk management when transferring funds by checking the accounts details of a solicitor you are sending funds to against our unique database. This ensures your client funds are sent to a legitimate bank account associated with the vendor’s conveyancing firm. Find out more >

Consumer Bank Account Checker (CBAC)

CBAC offers enhanced due diligence when remitting sales proceeds and balancing payments to consumers. It works by validating the source and destination of funds by checking the bank account details match your client’s personal details when sending or receiving client funds. Find out more >

OnDMARC

A vital layer in protecting against email modification fraud, OnDMARC can actively block phishing attacks and obstruct 3rd parties impersonating your email domain to any recipient such as your clients, suppliers or employees. Email fraud is a law firm’s biggest risk. To avoid sensitive data being stolen through email impersonation fraud, safeguard your firm by implementing OnDMARC, otherwise anyone can send an email directly to your customers, suppliers or employees pretending to be you. Find out more >

Cyber Certifications

The National Centre for Cyber Security has identified the legal sector as a top target for cyber criminals. The sensitive data, large sums of money and important information that is held needs protecting to avoid severe damage to clients and your reputation.

Cyber Essentials

Cyber Essentials is a ‘must have’ certification for law firms which will protect your business, prevents data breaches and highlights to your customers, your regulators, the ICO and cyber criminals that you take cyber security seriously and shows you have taken the recommended steps to secure yourselves from potential threats. Getting Cyber Essentials certification for your firm is quick and easy, our in-house expert Cyber Essentials Assessors at Lawyer Checker (Part of Practical Vision Network) can conduct your online assessment and issue your certificate in less than 48hrs. For only £350 plus VAT it will give you peace of mind that you have shielded your law firm from cyber risk.

Cyber Essentials Plus

Our professional in-house assessors can issue official certificates to compliant firms for Cyber Essentials Plus, which is the next step up from Cyber Essentials. It covers the same controls but this time it is independently verified by a site visit from our expert assessor who will carry out a thorough inspection of online devices and web hosts through a detailed network vulnerability scan and certify your security arrangements to Cyber Essentials Plus level.

IASME Governance

Our expert in-house assessors can issue official certificates to compliant firms for IASME which includes Cyber Essentials certification along with a GDPR readiness assessment. It signifies to your customers and shareholders that you consider data protection a priority, and your desire to manage risk by demonstrating a high level of security. This certification is particularly suitable for businesses that are working towards ISO27001 and want a stepping stone, or for those that want to align to ISO27001 but perhaps don’t have the budget to go to a full certification.

ISO 27001

Our expert in-house consultants will help your firm prepare for ISO 27001 certification audits. It is internationally recognised as the most comprehensive and detailed accreditation to help embed a healthy security culture within your business. The consultation focuses on all business areas and not just the IT department. Our execution experts can work with you to implement ISO27001 in a way that works for your business and can provide as much or as little support as you need from project plans, document templates to full implementation. Our professional assessors can even help you to book and prepare for your certification audits.

To safeguard your business, use Lawyer Checker’s comprehensive products and services to arm you and your law firm with the right tools and information to be able to obtain the assurances you need to act in the best interests of your clients.

Key contacts:

Heidi Jenkins
Key Relationship Manager at the Practical Vision Network including Lawyer Checker, Solve Legal Marketing and The Move Exchange.
M: 0330 052 7588 E: [email protected]

Mark Siwiec
Business Development Manager (Cyber) at the Practical Vision Network including Lawyer Checker, Solve Legal Marketing and The Move Exchange.
M: 03300529150 E: [email protected]

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