Quarter of law firms hit by fraudsters last year

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Jul 24, 2017
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Solicitors are targeted with online scams using spam emails and phishing because they hold sensitive client details

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More than a quarter of all law firms in England and Wales were targeted by fraudsters last year with most attempted scams taking place online, figures released today reveal.

Spam emails and so-called phishing – to obtain passwords and bank details – were the most common tactics used by scammers as they attempted to steal confidential information or cash from law firms.

The figures from a Law Society survey confirm that solicitor practices of all sizes are seen as vulnerable targets because they hold sensitive client information. High street law firms are also often targeted with “Friday afternoon” scams because it is that day when their client accounts are replete with funds in advance of house-buying exchanges.

Releasing the figures from their professional indemnity insurance survey, society officials reiterated its advice on cybersecurity for law firms, and claimed that nearly half the practices in the country had downloaded it from the organisation’s website.

“It is vital firms keep their risk management up to date – particularly in relation to scams – if they wish to continue to benefit from lower professional indemnity insurance premiums,” Joe Egan, the society’s president, said.

Egan pointed out that insurance companies were increasingly grilling law firms over the measures they have put in place to protect against scams with specific attention focussing on technology systems.

The society – which represents nearly 10,500 law firms in the jurisdiction – released the scamming figures as part of its survey on solicitor professional indemnity insurance.

The research found that only a third of law firms were aware of the looming closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund collective run-off cover. The mutual ceased accepting new business in 2000 but any law firm that closed since that year without a successor in place could still rely on the fund to cover claims made after the six-year run-off period.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is closing down that facility in 2020, despite Law Society objections.

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