During year end, attorneys, staff, and clients are often feeling rushed to bring work to a conclusion, including closings.
Be on high alert for scams.
- Share fraud alerts with support staff.
- Every wire request should be verified.
- The best practice for verifying wire instructions is to have the Seller sign the wiring instructions at the closing in the presence of the attorney.
- Do not accept changes to wiring instructions.
- Changes in wire instructions are a RED FLAG and you are likely being targeted for a scam. In the last six months of this year, Lawyers Mutual has received reports of more than a dozen scams with hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen.
The single most common cause of wire fraud is hacked email.
- Do not use a free email service (gmail, yahoo, aol, nc.rr.com, etc.).
- Regularly change your passwords and use strong passwords.
- Do not accept changes to wiring instructions from a free email account.
- Confirm emailed wiring instructions with a telephone call to a well-documented telephone number already in your file.
- Do not send wires overseas. Once the money leaves the United States, it is likely gone forever.
If you believe you are the victim of a wire fraud, call:
- Your bank and the recipient bank to freeze the funds
- The State Bar
- Lawyers Mutual (we have contacts who may be able to assist in recovering funds if you act quickly).