Do you know how to spot a reputable law firm from a bogus one?
Only last week, the BBC reported that the number of fake law firms had increased by 101% in the last two years. Fraudsters are setting up bogus law firms or stealing the identity of genuine solicitors in order to con clients out of their money.
What does Nockolds do to protect our clients?
- We regularly check the internet to make sure that no-one is using Nockolds’ information without our permission
- We ensure that we only deal with legitimate solicitors by undertaking verification checks
- We subscribe to the Solicitors Regulation Authority “scam alerts” so that we remain up to date with the latest cases of fraudulent activity
- We train our staff to spot the warning signs in order to reduce the risk of ourselves and our clients becoming victims of fraud
How can you protect yourself against a fake law firm or a bogus solicitor?
- Instruct a reputable firm of solicitors such as Nockolds. We’ve been established for over 100 years in Bishop’s Stortford and now in the City of London
- Ask friends and family to recommend a firm, or contact the Law Society. Firms with the Law Society “Lexcel” Quality Mark will have effective systems and good risk management in place
- Check the firm, any branch offices and individual solicitors on the Law Society “Find a Solicitor” website and ask for their Solicitors Regulation Authority ID number. Check this against their professional notepaper and website
- Meet the solicitor at his registered office to satisfy yourself that the office does actually exist
- If you receive unsolicited letters or e-mails, always check them carefully for spelling mistakes and beware of firms who only provide mobile telephone numbers. Scam e-mails are extremely common and if you are not expecting correspondence from a firm of solicitors, then be wary
- DO NOT provide personal information or send money until you are absolutely satisfied that you are dealing with a genuine firm and solicitor
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has given some examples of the types of crimes being committed: -
- Receiving text messages from fake firms telling you that you are entitled to receive compensation, or that a relative had died leaving you money. Their intention is to obtain your bank account information in order to steal your money
- Fake firms or bogus solicitors acting on the other side of property transactions. In a recent case, solicitors acting for house purchasers transferred their clients’ money to fake solicitors pretending to act for the seller. The fake solicitor disappeared with money, leaving the purchasers £175,000 out of pocket and without the home they desperately wanted
- Individuals holding themselves out as solicitors who are not authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This includes people who have been struck off the roll of solicitors, or those who have never trained and qualified as lawyers. This may result in you receiving poor advice and little prospect of redress or compensation
Unfortunately, this type of criminal activity is on the increase and cybercrime is becoming ever more sophisticated. We cannot eradicate it, but Nockolds is working hard to reduce the risks. Our Client Care Managers, Jayne Kendrick-Jones and Fiona Spinks, continuously review the firm’s performance to ensure Nockolds combines its reliable and accurate legal service with the highest standards of client care.