Financial fraud in property transactions – tips for consumers
Property transactions are rich targets for financial fraud, particularly with the advent of electronic conveyancing. If you intend to buy or sell a property, we recommend some tips to reduce the risk of exposure.
The insurers reported that last year was the fourth consecutive year of $1 million-plus property related claims, with 2021’s number skyrocketing. The majority of claims were attributed to cybercrime.
One of the most common methods used is to hack the email address of a buyer, seller, broker or a conveyancer, and attempt to divert funds (either being sent or received). Never rely on electronic communications alone, ALWAYS telephone to verify bank details of funds you are sending, make sure that your conveyancer takes the time to verify with you any proceeds funds account details that you provide. Call them yourself to a verified office number rather than provide details via a received phone call.
It’s not just clients who are having emails accounts hacked. Industry professionals are also being targeted, and we must have very strict procedures and protocols in place. Anchor Conveyancing does not open attachments without knowing their origin, we do not accept third party instructions (such as from an agent or another practitioner) to distribute a client’s funds.
Limit the exposure your email has. For example, we thoroughly recommend creating a brand-new email address with a complex password to use only when handling your conveyancing transaction. That way you know that it hasn’t been previously used for years, and it has not been exposed to criminals through a cyberbreach.
Ensure that your conveyancer protects you. With decades-long experience in handling property transactions, we’ve developed practices to ensure that our clients are covered, and we are constantly adapting and altering them with the changing threats. Every day brings a new threat. Our most recent story is noticing an imitation email account with one letter changed in an attempt to divert funds. Verify and check the origination of each and every email in a transaction.
The business environment is becoming more complex. When entrusting a professional to handle the most expensive transaction of your lifetime, it pays to do your due diligence and check how you are protected against fraud. Anchor Conveyancing nowadays not only needs to be on its toes to make sure your contract is prepared properly (or checked properly if buying), that your bank is on track for settlement, that your levies are adjusted and that settlement takes place on time – we also have to have modern fraud protection systems in place, and stay ever-alert to protect you.
Proudly in Docklands! •
Caption: Jayson Sande, director and licensed conveyancer, Anchor Conveyancing.