SRA executive director Crispin Passmore told the Conveyancing Association conference last week that conveyancers must recognise the ‘huge risk to consumers losing money or confidential information’ coupled with the potential damage to firm reputation.
Making more than a nod to the Risk Outlook issued by the SRA in June, Passmore noted that the risk of financial instability and firms collapsing is still a concern.
The director explained the problem by pointing out that many larger practices still have weak prevention systems and that they are failing to detect a rogue individual or a group with criminal intent.
He focussed on the increasing number of bogus firms stealing identities of existing firms or individuals. Using the example of a conveyancing transaction to emphasise the huge impact that this very real risk can have both on firm and consumer, Passmore said that the firm he highlighted was found not to be at fault as it had taken proper steps to check the conveyancer’s identity, but the case had a damaging impact on its reputation.
It was therefore duly noted that, although it was not within the industry’s power to remove this very real risk, firms can certainly engender solid tactics within departments and firm wide in an attempt to minimise risk. Along with the daily alerts which can be found on the SRA’s own site; the SRA executive director clearly acknowledged that the ‘Find A Solicitor’ site is useful for checking the identity of your firm’s own site, but not necessarily that of a recipient firm, when he encouraged the following for best practice:
- Regular internet searches of your firm name to check for identity theft
- Checking your firm on the Law Society’s ‘Find a Solicitor’ to ensure details are correct
- Being alert to suspicious incidents, such as when others seem to think your firm is dealing with a transaction you are not aware of.
- Regularly checking the SRA website for scam alerts or follow the SRA on Twitter
- Contact the SRA ‘Red Alert’ hotline if you believe someone has stolen the identity of your firm or anyone working within it.
At Lawyer Checker  our sole focus is to protect client money and to aid conveyancers in this ever growing fight against criminals who are intent on using the industry to make cash gains.
By implementing a Lawyer Checker search into conveyancing transactions the modern conveyancer gives themselves, their firm and their clients another piece of armoury in this constant battle.
So what are you waiting for? Why would you not implement a check when the SRA executive director himself has highlighted the risk of Bogus Law Firms?
To find out more about Lawyer Checker and how easy it is to implement into your risk regimen contact the team.