Cyber crime is becoming one of the fastest growing threats to many companies and firms around the world; not forgetting the clients and customers as well. As such large amounts of money are involved within property transactions criminals see these as an easy target for, what can be, huge gains. It is an unfortunate fact of life that there will always be someone trying to take advantage and steal or defraud someone else.
Despite the worrying reports there are ways that you can help protect yourself.
One common form of fraud results from when a fraudster hacks into and reads your emails. The fraudster then impersonates a genuine contact (such as a Bank or Solicitor) and persuades you to do something which you may not normally do (for instance ask you to give your bank details to them or ask you to send money to a different account from the one you were initially asked to send it to). These criminals are aware of the time lines within property transactions and their main objective is to try and intercept the money at the point where it is being transferred between parties. You should therefore always be vigilant throughout as the fraudster can gain access to your emails at any point in the transaction, ready to seize their opportunity when it presents itself.
The best advice we can give is simply:-
- Never give your bank details to someone over the telephone – if someone asks you to give your bank details over the telephone, hang up and wait a few minutes (or use a different telephone) and telephone the organisation’s land line number (their number will be on their website or on any letter you may have received from them);
- At first glance a fraudulent email can look exactly the same as an email you have already received from the genuine firm dealing with your matter with official looking headers and footers and with large blocks of terms and conditions you would expect to see. Nevertheless, there are some signs to look at for. Always read your emails carefully and check the sender’s details as well. Often a fraudster will misspell words or use bad grammar in their email. In some cases they may use ‘urgent language’ in the headings such as ‘important account details update’, stating that their or your account details have been compromised;
- If there is any doubt about the email, do not act on it. Telephone the person who you believed sent it to you to verify whether or not it was from that person
Please note that this is just a general guide on what to look out for and on how to stay safe during the transaction as fraudsters have many techniques in gaining the information they require. The best approach is to implement common sense and caution throughout the entire transaction and if you do suspect anything untoward do not be afraid to question why you are being asked to supply certain information. Incidents of fraud are thankfully few and far between. However you should still be vigilant to protect yourself from being one of the few.
If you require assistance in respect of a property transaction please do contact us at the office most convenient for you. Details can be found on the contact page of the website.