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In the good old days of quill and ink, buying and selling property was a slow, paper based process. Nowadays, because we have developed internet technology, the process is a lot faster. The question is: is it safer?
You will be aware that fraudsters obtain information and use that information to attack other people’s accounts. They pretend to be the account holder.
In other circumstances, you might receive a phone call from your bank’s “Security Officer” or the “Police” and you will be asked to give your account details, pass codes and so on. Often on the basis, so you are told, that there has been a fraud on your account and this person is now going to help you. You will all have heard about people who have innocently given their details only to find that the fraudster has then emptied their account.
You may have anti-virus and anti-spam software on your computer - but it doesn’t work in your brain. We are generally disposed to assisting people in authority who convince us that it is in our interests to give up information.
Here’s the solution: DON’T DO IT. Neither your bank, the Police nor any government agency (eg HMRC) will ask you for such details over the phone. If you have suspicions, then hang up the phone and use a different phone to call and check. If the call was received on the landline - use your mobile. Never use the line that you were just called on. Fraudsters have a trick of making the line sound as if it is disconnected, they then listen in as you give your details over the phone to your actual bank.
A growing issue is fraudsters intervening in property transactions to steal money.
At the start of 2015 Paul and Ann sold the flat they had bought for their daughter, Tracey, in South London, for £340,000. She had recently had a child and moved to a bigger home.Two days before the set completion date of 27 February, Paul’s solicitor emailed Paul requesting his bank account details for the sale proceeds to be paid into.
As millions of people do regularly and without thought, Paul duly replied, sending his bank account number and sort code. The email was intercepted by fraudsters. Possibly using technology that “X-rays” millions of emails to identify patterns of data that could contain valuable financial information, the criminals homed in on Paul’s email – and pounced.
Posing as Paul, the fraudsters swiftly emailed his Solicitors again – from the same email account – and told the Solicitor to disregard the previous details and send the money to a different account instead.
A solution to this is: give your bank account details to your Solicitor at the start of the process in person. If the details change, because you have moved accounts, call in and see the Solicitor. Don’t send money in response to an email from your Solicitor to a different account.
Emmersons Conveyancing Solicitors will never ask you for your account details by email.
Emmersons Conveyancing Solicitors will never email you to say the account details have changed. We have put in place procedures to avoid placing information on the Internet.
Every week there is some new scam. At Emmersons Conveyancing Solicitors, Newcastle and Sunderland, we receive alerts early every morning warning us what to look out for. We have had people contacting us purporting to be from our regulator to try to obtain information from us. People pretend to be the other party’s solicitor, they pretend to be the other party or the estate agent. We have to be vigilant. This issue takes up a lot of our time.
However, your solicitor can only do so much to protect you. You must also be on the ball when it comes to protecting your email account or your financial information. If you are considering selling, purchasing, transferring or re-mortgaging your home then contact us at Emmersons Solicitors and let us help you complete your case safely.
If you would like any further information about our Conveyancing Services or you would like a FREE Fixed Fee Conveyancing Quote, then please do not hesitate to contact us on:
Expert Conveyancing Solicitors- Newcastle: 0191 284 6989
Expert Conveyancing Solicitors - Sunderland: 0191 567 6667
You can also park opposite our Sunderland Office on John Street.