Solicitors are particularly vulnerable due to the amount of information and money that any firm will hold on behalf of their client.
A client can be affected by a cyber-attack in various forms.
There have been examples where a fraudster has hacked a solicitor’s email and the fraudster has sent their own bank details to the client so that when the client thought they were sending money to their solicitor they were in fact sending the money to the fraudsters account. Clients that have experienced this cyber-attack have not had their money located via the banking system and the police are usually unable to assist. The client would then have to deal with this devastating financial loss.
Coles Solicitors are dealing with this issue by only providing our bank details on our letter head with a disclaimer to state that no client should accept any further bank details by any further email or correspondence. We would also ask clients to verify with us on the day of making a bank transfer that the bank details that they have received are correct. If the client is still unsure about making this bank transfer then we would urge them to visit one of our offices to get the bank details direct from the solicitor acting for them.
Another example of a fraud that is becoming increasingly common is where the fraudster hacks the client’s email and sends the solicitor the wrong account details. In this scenario the solicitor then sends the money back to the fraudster’s account mistakenly thinking that the money is being sent to their client.
Coles Solicitors have taken specific expert advice on cyber-attacks and how best we can protect our client’s money. Due to the advice that we have obtained we have now changed our policy in dealing with sending money back to any client. Instead of using a bank transfer we are now sending money by cheque.
We appreciate that this may delay the client obtaining their money for a week or so but we have taken the view that a client would rather have their money arrive slightly later than expected than never at all. We have already explained this change in policy to some of our clients and their reaction so far has been positive. Clients are understanding and appreciate the nature of the risks involved and acknowledge that we are protecting their interests.
This is an ongoing issue for all businesses due to the nature of the risks involved and if you would like to speak to us on any issues raised in this article, please contact Kelly Buckle Fleming Head of Conveyancing at Coles Solicitors on 01845 591061