An LPA could help protect vulnerable people against bank fraud

Bank fraud is an increasing problem - particularly during the pandemic. It’s difficult enough to navigate new online or remote services that we’re not used to, but if you’re not of sound mind it is even harder. If you are an attorney or deputy responsible for someone who is vulnerable, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself, and them.

We wrote a blog recently about financial crime hitting new heights recently and the risk it carried to the elderly and vulnerable members of our society. The problem is, scammers are very clever and extremely adaptable. The government and the police plough billions of pounds into fighting crime, yet it seems the fraudsters are always one step ahead.

It is pointless blaming these institutions for not providing solutions quickly enough, however tempting that might be. It is also pointless blaming the mobile phone companies for not checking details before selling SIM cards, or banks for keeping accounts open for criminals to continue their activity.

Who knows who’s really behind these bank accounts. Some say they are cryptocurrency accounts that disperses money into thousands of other untraceable accounts seconds after landing in theirs. Banks say some accounts are operated by “money mules” - unwitting customers who use genuine accounts to move money - and it is this last one that is particularly concerning.

According to latest figures from CIFAS, a not-for-profit fraud prevention organisation, there were 2,139 cases of money muling reported in 2020 for those aged over 51 in the UK - an increase from 1,654 in 2017.

The best of us will think we are fairly switched on and it is difficult to think that we would ever unwittingly hand over our life savings to someone we don’t trust - but these fraudsters are clever.

We’ve heard of cases were fake police officers, or inspectors claiming to be from the National Crime Agency, have guessed enough detail about regular direct debits or spending habits to con people out of tens of thousands of pounds.

If you are an attorney or a deputy and you are responsible for someone else, there are a few things you can do. Adopting a Lasting Power of Attorney is so important as it can prevent an individual from acting without getting someone else involved. If another person is responsible for finances, it offers a further layer of protection - but you too will need to be vigilant.

Never click suspicious links in emails or text messages that you have not requested. Also, your bank will never ask you for your PIN number or other secure services and they will never ask you to transfer any money, large or small sums.

Downs Solicitors can help you draft an LPA that can proactively help protect your family before they become a target for fraud. Plus, we can offer advice and suggestions that might help. Contact us to find out more information.

Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office