Conveyancers urge home-buyers to be fraud-aware

Conveyancers have urged clients to be more aware of the risk of fraud in the home-buying process, as criminals increasingly target property purchases.

A survey of 90 professionals conducted by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) put fraud awareness top of the list of what they most wanted clients to be aware of when buying a home.

Fraud has hit the conveyancing market hard in recent years and a number of scams have left homebuyers at risk and hugely out of pocket, given the sums involved.

Conveyancers want to ensure that they are working in sync with their clients to ensure this does not happen – fraudsters often target law firms and their clients together, for example by hacking them and sending false instructions from one to the other. This requires vigilance on both sides.

Preparing proof of funds is also on conveyancers’ wish list, saying it is important for clients not only to have funds lined up and available, but also to have proof to demonstrate the source of their monies to prevent delays later in the process. This is vital to help combat money laundering which helps to facilitate crime and terrorism.

Stephen Ward, Director of Strategy at the CLC, says: “We work closely with all of our regulated firms to ensure that their communication with clients is clear and that, particularly first-time buyers, are made aware of the various stages which the home-buying process entails.

“Increasingly sophisticated fraud schemes mean that clear, direct communication between client and consumer has never been more important and we aim to make consumers as aware as possible of the risks so that they are suitably protected.

“There have been instances of criminals pretending to run a law firms, so last year we introduced an online secure badge scheme, which gives consumers confidence to know that the firm they are dealing with is genuine and not fake by allowing them to click through to information about it on the CLC website.”

Since 1 November 2017, CLC-regulated conveyancers have to display the secure badge, which will significantly reduce the risk of impersonation online through cloned or copied websites.

Further information can be found at the CLC website.

The poll was run on SurveyMonkey between 13 – 26 February 2018.

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