Keep clients safe from financial fraud

Due to the financial exchanges in the process often involving large sums of money, conveyancing is facing a growing risk of being targeted by cybercrime.

According to Fraud Action UK data, over 1 million incidents of financial fraud occurred in the first half of 2016.

Compared to the corresponding period in 2015, this represents a growth of 53%, and equates to a related incident occurring every 15 seconds within the UK.

In conjunction with these figures being released, a national campaign was launched – Take Five – to bring together both key financial services providers and banks in a bid to target financial fraud.

Banks are unlikely to admit liability where a consumer has authorised a payment to a scammer, and it is not uncommon for customers to lose thousands of pounds in such instances. A recent response from the Payments Systems Regulator also indicated that it is unlikely that banks will ever be obligated to compensate customers in these cases.

Thus it is important to highlight the significance of prevention and inform consumers of the growing range of risks that fraudsters are utilising. Although clients may believe they are aware of exposure to these risks (73%), recent figures indicate this may not be the case. Despite thinking that they shouldn’t, over a quarter (26%) of those asked stated they would still provide someone claiming to be from their bank with personal data. This indicates that individuals may not be as vigilant as they claim, even if they are aware of the potential risks they face.

Where cybercrime is concerned, consumers are likely to envisage large-scale hacking operations, but this is increasingly far from reality. There is arguably a gap in consumer understanding of what constitutes cybercrime; 86% of those surveyed stated that they had not been targeted in the last year. National statistics run counter to this proportion however, indicating that 68% of the UK population have been targeted in numerous ways:

  • Ransomware (3%)
  • Social media account hacked (10%)
  • Contacted encouraging to give away personal information (28%)
  • Fraudulent emails directing to sites where various personal information would be stolen (53%)

38% of those who stated they had been a cybercrime victim said that they believed the incident was too trivial to report. The impact that fraudulent conduct is having on a wider scale may not however, be considered as trivial.

From reports released in October of last year (2016), £10.9 billion was lost to the UK economy in 2015/16 as a result of fraud, including cybercrime.

Commenting on the need for increased preventative measures was the City of London Police’s Commander Chris Greaney. The Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime stated:  “The huge financial loss to cybercrime hides the often harrowing human stories that destroy lives and blights every community in the UK. All of us need to ask ourselves are we doing everything we can to protect ourselves from online criminals. Unfortunately, people still click on links in unsolicited emails and fail to update their security software. Just as you wouldn’t leave your door unlocked, so you shouldn’t leave yourself unprotected online.”

Simple measures can be implemented to drastically reduce the risks which consumers face, and it is important that they are made aware.

As well as being relevant for banks directly, the Take Five campaign can equally be applied to the conveyancing process, to ensure that consumers are sending money to the correct destination.

  • PINs or passwords should not be disclosed
  • Emails and phone calls should be double checked as to source, especially where bank details are being ‘changed’
  • Transactions should not be rushed
  • Initial doubts should be considered
  • Control should be maintained

At a time where cases involving fraudulent activity are increasingly being featured in the media, consumer concerns are likely to be heightened. It is therefore important as ever that the potential risks are communicated, in order for transactions to take place safely and securely.

Full details of the Take Five campaign can be found here.

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