OneSearch Direct, the largest local search data company in the UK, has seen a 58% year-on-year increase in orders of Lawyer Checker’s Account Entity Screen, as the industry sees a sharp spike in SRA Scam Alerts, up 75% since January 2020.
The rise in remote working due to COVID restrictions has created an extra layer of vulnerability for conveyancers, exacerbated by a busy market nearing the end of the SDLT holiday deadline. As law firms handle large amounts of both personal data and client monies, they are an attractive target for cyber criminals, so many firms are now taking a firmer stance against vendor conveyancer fraud.
With the SRA scam alerts in January 2021 showing a 75% increase on January last year, and there already being 34 scam alerts this month, it has never been more important for firms to fully verify emails purportedly from their clients and to implement robust measures to mitigate email fraud.
These concerns are echoed by the SRA: “The ongoing implications of COVID means law firms must be more vigilant then ever in how they plan for – and protect against – key risks currently facing the legal sector.”
Lidia Quinlan, Head of Sales, OneSearch Direct, comments:
“The sad reality is that many cases of fraud are easily preventable. Whether it’s one individual falling for a spoof email, or an entire firm failing to have robust enough processes, the consequences for both can be devastating, not to mention the potentially catastrophic financial loss for the homebuyer. We’re seeing more firms add Lawyer Checker searches to their product bundles, as they want to make sure all transactions are as secure from criminal activity as possible. When account and firm details are submitted on our portal, Lawyer Checker will identify if there is a track record of previous use associated with that account.
“An increasing number of our clients are using Lawyer Checker as a matter of course, and some have even implemented policies which require members of staff to carry out both an Account & Entity Screen search alongside a check of their own safe list, in the event that either brings up an inconclusive result on the firm in question. Lawyer Checker is fully integrated on the OneSearch ordering portal and demonstrates best practice in the transmission of funds.”
Tom Lyes, Director of Engagement Lawyer Checker, comments:
“The pressure which the market is currently under sadly makes it more attractive for criminals looking to seek financial gain from their crimes. The significant spike in SRA Scam alerts reflects this behaviour. At Lawyer Checker the reason we get out of bed in the morning is to help protect law firms and I know that OneSearch Direct share that sentiment with us, and we have certainly seen more firms embed this into their processes, given how simple it is to order Lawyer Checker through the OneSearch platform. Making the business decision to implement Lawyer Checker on all files not only means you are protecting clients’ money in the most robust way, but you are also protecting your staff and giving them the tools needed to proactively fight fraud.”
Combating Conveyancing Fraud – Update on risk
Thursday, February 25th @ 11:00AM GMT
OneSearch Direct and Lawyer Checker are offering all conveyancers access to a free webinar, looking at the current threat level of fraudulent activity in the sector. The session will also examine why Lawyer Checker is more than just a bank account checker, and how Lawyer Checker in collaboration with OneSearch Direct can help you and your conveyancing team to ensure you are working in the most compliant and safest way possible.
If you can’t make this date, but would like a recording afterwards, please click here.
For more information on OneSearch Direct, visit onesearch.direct or call main Headquarters on 0800 052 0117.