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Conveyancing Association tackle fraud with launch of Cyber Safe Scheme

The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has today (5th May 2016) launched its new Cyber Safe Scheme to help conveyancing firms tackle the growing threat of fraud within the house purchase process and to help reduce customers’ exposure to fraudulent activity

Given the large sums of money involved in the house-purchase process, criminals are actively targeting firms and customers and attempting to defraud them of their purchase monies.

There have been a number of recent examples whereby customer’s email accounts have been hacked with fraudsters posing as the conveyancing firm and convincing the buyer to send their deposit monies to a different account. Customers have lost tens of thousands of pounds plus their potential new home as a result of this fraud.

In order to help conveyancing firms tackle this threat, and to educate and inform customers about the potential for this type of fraud, the CA has launched its Cyber Safe Scheme which includes a customer leaflet detailing how they can avoid being a victim of this fraud, the conveyancing firm’s bank account details, how to set up secure communications with the firm, plus details of a range of measures to ensure the customer is ‘Cyber Safe’.

Conveyancing firms who meet the Cyber Safe standard will be accredited and customers will be able to know which firms are actively achieving strong levels of protection by looking for the Cyber Safe logo.

The Cyber Safe Scheme is backed up by a Cyberfraud and Fraud Protocol which provides CA member firms with practical information on how criminals operate and the measures they, and their staff, can take to avoid being victims of fraud and cyber-crime.

Firms will need to demonstrate they are adhering to, and adopting, the CA Cyber Security Protocol and that they have been certified under the Cyber Essentials Scheme for IT security – or its equivalent.

The CA is urging its member firms to adopt the Cyber Safe Standard as soon as possible and it wants customers to look for the Cyber Safe logo, ask for the leaflet, and question their firm on what they are doing to keep them safe within their transaction.

Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association, commented:

“We know that at least 85% of ‘cyber intrusions’ involve criminals using unsophisticated techniques such as an email hack which involves them posing as the law firm and asking the customer to send their deposit money to a different account. By implementing the CA’s Cyber Safe standard the chances of this type of fraud being successful would be far less and this would go a long way to ensuring fewer customers have to go through the terrible ordeal of losing vast sums of money plus the potential purchase of their new home.

“Those firms committing to the Cyber Safe Scheme will provide each customer with a ‘Client Warning’ factsheet which details the risks, plus the measures they can take in order to mitigate against them. It would also include the firm’s Bank Account details so that if the customer were ever contacted to suggest a change, they can check against this and take the appropriate action.

“As a further preventative measure, we would also urge customers – when first sending money – to send the smallest amount possible and then check with the law firm so they can be confident the money is going to the right place.

“Behind the delivery of the Cyber Safe Scheme is the launch of our Cyberfraud and Fraud Protocol which includes a range of standards that conveyancing firms have to meet if they want to achieve accreditation. This Protocol will be maintained and updated by our Cyber Committee at regular intervals to ensure it is kept up to date with developments in criminal activity and prevention.

“The CA is absolutely committed to ensuring our members meet the highest standards when it comes to both cyberfraud and fraud prevention. We acknowledge that criminals are increasingly looking at the conveyancing process as a means to defraud firms and customers and we would urge everyone to be vigilant and to increase their protection levels plus make sure that security levels are at their highest,communication channels are fully monitored and that money transfers are checked and double-checked.”

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