Attorneys: are you doing all you can to prevent bank fraud?
Of course, no one plans to intentionally become a victim of fraud but, the fact is, scams are becoming so clever many of us fall for them without realising - and if you are an attorney acting on behalf of someone else, you need to be extra vigilant.
According to UK Finance, the collective voice for the banking and finance industry representing some 250 firms in the UK, criminals stole more than £1.2 billion through fraud and scams in 2019. Whilst new figures for 2020 are due, it is expected that Covid-19 to reveal itself as one of the most lucrative opportunities for crime, as isolation among vulnerable people and increasing reliance on sometimes unfamiliar digital methods have opened up a raft of opportunity for unsuspecting victims.
Even those of us who pride ourselves on meticulous detail can fall victim to a ruthless fraudster who will stop at nothing to get their hands on yours - or a loved one’s - life savings. UK Finance states that unauthorised financial fraud losses across payment cards, remote banking and cheques totalled £824.8 million in 2019, despite banks and card companies preventing £1.8 billion in unauthorised fraud (source as before). In addition to this, in 2019 UK Finance members reported 122,437 incidents of Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams with gross losses of £455.8 million.
Whilst many banks will act to repay victims of fraudulent transactions, this also comes with a word of caution. This money has to be recovered somewhere, and this is usually through the customer with higher fees and interest rates on borrowing - so the responsibility falls back to us to make sure we are safeguarding ourselves and our loved ones at all times.
If you are acting on behalf of someone else under a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) you have an additional responsibility to ensure that any transactions are genuine and that the person or company you are dealing with is legitimate. If you are responsible for someone who is considered vulnerable, you should also question any unusual transitions and follow up anything you are not sure of.
If you are checking the authenticity of a person or company, make sure you carry out your own research. Google a company or check the yellow pages to find a phone number that you are certain is legitimate. Do not call any numbers or email anybody that causes you concern or you think is suspicious. You can always report any attempted fraud to Action Fraud or the police.
If you would like some further advice following from any fraud or attempted fraud, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help you.
If you are an attorney or would like some advice relating to Lasting Power of attorney you can also get in touch with our Private Client team.