Tom Durbin St George, director of easy convey advises on how to prevent being a casualty of conveyancing fraud.
Fraud is a conveyancer’s nightmare, and sadly it is only too prevalent in the industry at present. Press and public perception means that when a rogue slips through, the whole industry is tainted. Deposit, property and general financial fraud has unfortunately increased significantly in the last ten years and is one of the unintended consequences of digitisation. The profession is all too aware of what is happening and only continued vigilance, both technical and manual, will curb this cancer to our industry.
The practices adopted to mitigate the risk of being targeted
Government, regulators, universities, conveyancing professionals, private sector and the property buying and selling public all have a part to play to mitigate risk. We have cyber essentials accreditation, GDPR, best practices and constant warnings, but still fraud can slip through. The most basic advice still stands strong, never trust an em
ail at first instance. If you’re not expecting it, then verify it.
Steps or methods that you think should be implemented
Combine new technology with old fashioned contact and instincts. As human beings, we are pretty good at sniffing out a rogue. However, we tend to naively trust technology unequivocally, which is where the old and new should be merged. We should be using secured alternatives to a web based email, such as the easy convey Track-A-Matter portal which allows communication without the need for emails. Equally, conveyancers and the public shouldn’t be afraid of picking up the phone if even the slightest concern arises. We should also ensure we know our clients. Using secured, verified client ID is invaluable.
The impact of technology on fraud, for both professionals and criminals
Conveyancers and the industry are targets, because of both volume of transactions and sheer size of the value. Technology is making us more efficient, and more aware of who we’re dealing with. Professionals should harness those systems to help. Many conveyancers still use either no conveyancing case management systems, or generic ones that aren’t tailored to their way of working. The right technology can help professionals in both their fight against fraud and their ambitions for efficiency.
Technology is the gravy train for criminals. Fraud has been part and parcel of the criminal law for centuries and rogues were as prevalent in the Victorian era as today, just now their work is easier. Now a mere email address and internet connection are the only tools needed for most fraudsters and they can hide behind jurisdiction. However, as public and professional competence improves, so does our understanding of risk and individual vigilance gets stronger.
Expectations of how it will be dealt with in future
Our technical arsenal against fraud is only improving. Our ability to verify who we’re dealing with has enhanced hugely and client ID work will only continue to grow. More tools will be developed to spot anomalies in data and flag them for intervention. Further on down the line, Artificial Intelligence will play a part. AI will not be the deciding factor, human intervention will always play a significant part in the conveyancing process, but technology will eventually defeat the fraud that exists at the level we see today.