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Using technology to protect clients against fraud

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Fraudsters are constantly looking at different ways of stealing money from people who are buying or selling a property.  As lawyers, we have a responsibility to help keep our clients’ money safe.  Which is why we turn to technology for help.

A typical approach

Most law firms we deal with use traditional paper files and email as their main method of communication.  Therefore, their clients will have to rely on this type of insecure technology.

This puts them at risk of various frauds such as impersonation or interception.  Law firms that are serious about protecting their clients must not use email but secure messaging portals instead.  By insisting clients use these, companies can help them avoid sending their money to a fraudster by mistake. Good messaging portals use two-factor authentication. For instance, a login password as well as a secondary method, using a different code should be required by the user.

The best portals allow clients to download documents from lawyers, and can feel safe knowing that these have not been tampered with by a fraudster.

Device and location checking

One of the key benefits of a secure message platform, is that they make it possible to do checks on what type of device the client is using.  All devices have a unique identifier and by storing this information, any attempt to use a different device can be flagged as a warning.

In addition, geolocation information can also be stored when clients log into a portal.  If a fraudster attempts to gain access to the messaging platform from a different location, the client can be warned.

Identification checking

Identify theft is a major problem.  In the past, lawyers met their clients face to face. Whilst this is the most secure method, unfortunately it is not the most practical.  Technology can help here with face and voice recognition becoming more mainstream.  Artificial intelligence-based comparison software can check uploaded videos of clients saying a standard phrase or scans of their identification documents to ensure they are genuine.

Title change notification

Technology has another role to play in reducing the chance that a fraudster attempts to register a client’s property themselves.  The Property Alert service from Land Registry sends an email to anyone that has signed up to monitor the property so clients can be notified if anything is changed on the register.  The service is free and will help clients be more aware if someone might be trying to steal their property. More information is available at : https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk

In conclusion, whilst fraudsters could exploit the use of technology to extract money from buyers and sellers, this can be overcome. By switching to new, smarter communication, alerting and checking software, transactions will become more secure and also more efficient.  Law firms need to embrace these changes in the fight to protect their clients.