Security measures when buying and selling property

December 2017

More and more instances are being reported of fraudsters hacking into emails and diverting house purchase payments.

Santander has recently contacted us to advise that “Fraudsters are currently hacking into email chains between a house buyer or seller and their solicitors.  The fraudster monitors the communications using malware that looks for key words like house purchase, deposit, buy and payment – and then they make their move.”

We believe that after hacking the email account they will contact the client disguised as the solicitor’s company they have been liaising with.

The fraudsters tell the client by email that their solicitor’s bank account details have changed or they amend the account number before the client gets it.

The fraudsters give the client details of the ‘new’ account for the deposit to be sent.

All too often the client unknowingly transfers their money to the ‘new’ false account.

The false account is owned by the fraudster, leaving the solicitor or client at a substantial financial loss.  Santander advises that “Unfortunately in these circumstances, we can’t recover the funds because they are authorised.”

So how can you keep yourself safe?

• We will always confirm any change of bank account requests with you or the solicitor or colleague making the change.

• Do not to respond to the email address that any request has been sent from or use the contact details on the letter requesting the change.

• Only use the bank details that we provided by post at the outset of the transaction.

• Please forgive us if we make additional checks with you to satisfy ourselves that the payment will be sent to the correct bank account and recipient or if we seem to be asking you to repeat information which you have already given – this is for your own protection, our ours.

• Never feel pressured into changing any bank details. If you receive an email stating a change in the bank details, you should ring us on a previously used telephone number.

• Check the email address carefully and if in doubt phone us to check the information is correct. We understand that this is a big deal.

• Avoid using public Wi-Fi systems to check emails when house purchases and sales are being made. Fraudsters can easily hack into vulnerable Wi-Fi systems.

• Avoid sharing social media posts about buying/selling your house. Fraudsters may get hold of this information and know the next step is a large financial transaction.

If you are ever in doubt about the legitimacy of an email from us please telephone us.