More vigilance needed in Mortgage sector as email scams increase

£236 million was lost to fraudsters last year, according to recent information from HL Partnership.

In the majority, poor security, the use of vulnerable email accounts, or clicking on seemingly innocent phishing links have been blamed for these losses.

As fraudsters become more sophisticated, users of technology also need to become a lot more suspicious and vigilant, especially when huge amounts of money are at stake.

Within the last year 13,404 mortgage applications with suggestions of potential fraud were identified, according to CoreLogic research. This statistic is up from 2017 figures of 12,718. When such high numbers of fraud have been identified, the anxiety remains in those that slip through the net and succeed in fraudulent transactions.

Gavin Earnshaw, compliance director at HL Partnership, said: “We all believe that it will never happen to us, but in truth no one is completely immune to becoming a victim of fraud. This is particularly true when we are in the midst of the most stressful of situations – the house buying process. With so many requests for different documents and where we will be expected to transfer money at some point in the journey, it is easy to miss what looks like a credible but fraudulent request for money. Raising awareness is a key weapon in the fight against this kind of crime.

“This is why we have been proactive in making sure that our advisers are aware of the issues and, through them, hammer home the message to their customers of the dangers of responding automatically to requests for money.

“Only by being vigilant ourselves, making our customers more aware and using the best technology tools available, can we minimise the potential dangers to our customers and move to eradicate this particularly evil crime.”

According to a 2016 Government cyber security report: “law firms may represent the weakest link in the chain to reach their clients’ data,” and cyber criminals are increasingly viewing the legal sector as a “vulnerable and profitable industry.”

There were 488 reported data breaches in the UK in 2017. This resulted in 826 million data records being lost or stolen. This in itself is unthinkable, but if we add to this the average cost of a data breach for UK organisations was £2.48 million, we can see the severity of the problem.

We, in our civilian and working lives, need to be aware of the real threats of spear-fishing, ransomware, malware, crypto-jacking, pharming, whaling, ‘man in the middle’ attacks, trojans, and denial of service attacks.

Of course, this list is not extensive and in an ever-changing world of increasingly intelligent technology, we should be prepared for a myriad of evolving threats in the future.

Have you experienced potential or actual attacks from cyber criminals? Are you worried that conveyancers are being targeted? What are the implications for conveyancers?

 

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