With cybercrime and fraud on the increase it is important that practices take all reasonable steps to protect themselves and their clients from possibly devastating consequences.
Thank you for visiting our website to learn more about the Safe Capital Market Study. We’ve included below a comprehensive background to Safe Capital and its evolution so far as a product.
We thought that it would be helpful to review how Safe Capital came about and where we believe it sits within the risk mitigation strategy for conveyancing practices. If this is of interest to you, you can read the background below. If instead you want to skip ahead to learn about the Market Study Opportunity, click on the button below.
Friday afternoon fraud ... is now the biggest cybercrime afflicting the legal sector.
While many firms have adopted tools such as Lawyer Checker as a way to mitigate their risk when transferring client funds, very little has been done to help protect clients transferring funds into the firm's client account.
Conveyancing firms clients are targeted regularly by criminals who try to trick them into sending their money to a fraudulent bank account, often in a hurried fashion during what is commonly regarded as the most stressful transaction people are involved in - the process of moving house.
Current industry best practice for protecting clients from the risk of Friday Afternoon and Email Modification Fraud has been for firms to add a risk notice into the footer of every email they send to their clients, an approach recommended by the CLC.
Advise clients in initial, and ideally all, correspondence that bank details will not be changed, or if they are communication will not be sent by email on this matter.
Studies have shown that less than 10 percent of email recipients bother to read email disclaimers, so it's unlikely that a fraud risk notice in an email footer is effective.
Safe Capital as a product was conceived because we believe that firms can do more to try and protect their clients from fraud risk. Whilst arguably the fight against fraud is an arms race, with fraudsters coming up with more sophisticated ways of duping clients - we believe that firms today can and should be doing more to protect their clients and the reputation of their practices with minimal effort needed.
Safe Capital was created with conveyancers in mind, with the initial focus being on helping firms to mitigate the risk of Friday Afternoon and Email Modification Fraud. The initial version of the service we created is encapsulated in the process overview below.
In 2019, we conducted market research through Bold Legal Group, to identify whether the tool described above would be of benefit to conveyancing firms.
We received responses from 34 law firms, with 77% of firms asked “If you were offered this service would you use it?” responding yes. Firms were also happy with the idea of the service being packaged as a disbursement they could pass on to their clients.
Encouraged by the results of the survey, we moved forward and built version one of Safe Capital. We then conducted an initial pilot study with a high volume conveyancing practice.
We also consulted several Professional Indemnity Insurance brokers about how use of the product by firms may in future strengthen their insurance applications, as the product becomes an industry standard (as we hope it does).
Upon conclusion of our pilot study with a high volume conveyancing practice, we have made some changes to our product resulting from the feedback we received during the pilot.
The focus of our platform thus far has been about helping firms make their clients aware of the heightened fraud risk they face during the course of a property transaction, on a “per case” basis.
The client would be asked to visit your website to complete fraud risk training (supplied by us in the form of a website tool/widget). The client would complete the training and also verify they had the correct bank details for your firm securely through the tool. A record would be created against their case reference - noting they had been warned about fraud risks, should they later be tricked by a fraudster.
Whilst this approach would be the most rigorous (creating a record that you could potentially refer to later when investigating the fraud) our pilot study showed that the uptake from clients was extremely low, whilst the demands placed on the firm to invite each and every client to complete training at the outset of their matter (and chase them up to do so) was onerous.
As a non-sequitur its worth making a brief detour to mention Confirmation of Payee (CoP).
We expect that law firms are aware of the CoP system being rolled out by most major financial institutions and may view this as the solution to Friday Afternoon Fraud.
CoP asks you to check the name of the payee is correct when authorising a bank transfer. Whilst this will make it harder for fraudsters to redirect funds to accounts where the name bears no relation to your firm, we believe that ultimately it will make frauds more believable when they are targeted attempts to defraud a given firm and its clients (which they often are).
Fraudsters will create a convincing narrative around why the account name is different, or why the payment is being diverted, and so ultimately we don’t believe CoP is going to make the risk of Friday Afternoon Fraud go away. In our Safe Capital fraud training courses, we cover several fraud vectors that take advantage of the new CoP system to make the fraud more believable and we expect we will see cases of these in the coming months.
Because of this, we continue to believe that Safe Capital should form a core pillar of the fraud risk mitigation strategy of conveyancing practices.
Safe Capital has been extended so that it now helps firms to educate their staff about the main types of fraud that the CLC believes its member firms are at risk from. In addition, we have revised our approach to helping firms educate their clients about the fraud risks facing them during the course of their conveyancing transaction.
Following feedback from our initial pilot study, for a fixed annual fee we now provide firms with:
The revised approach to fraud risk mitigation for your firm is that you make best efforts to educate clients by providing them with fraud risk factsheets and advising them to visit your website to learn more. If they choose to do so they can learn more about fraud risks and check they have the correct bank details for your firm securely.
The feedback we received highlighted that an additional benefit of our platform that would add value to the proposition was to include training for law firm staff members about Friday Afternoon Fraud, CEO Fraud and Invoice Fraud.
These are now available through the Safe Capital platform as separate training modules. Firms can schedule regular training for team members, ensure new team members complete training as part of their onboarding process and export training records to your firm's central CPD records.
We want to work with several law firms who are willing to:
Whilst we are happy to answer questions about the Safe Capital proposition, we are looking for firms who can take an agile approach to a three month study - we want to have all participating firms live on our platform by July 31st, with the study taking place between 1st August and 31st October.
We believe Safe Capital will be of greatest benefit to firms doing up to and including around 100 transactions per month, though we are happy to work with firms of any size.
We will conduct a short interview with you about how you found Safe Capital and to take onboard any feedback you may have to help us shape and improve the product for the future. In addition, we may ask to speak to members of your team if they have provided us with feedback during the course of the study too.
A good outcome for us from the study would be that:
Usage of the Safe Capital Platform will be free of charge for your firm until 30th November. This allows the study to conclude on 31st October and a grace period of 30 days. The grace period is to allow you sufficient time to remove any Safe Capital widgets from your website at the conclusion of the study.
In addition, we will waive any additional costs in relation to getting you up and running with Safe Capital and the costs to supply any hard copies of fact sheets.
We hope that at the conclusion of the study you will wish to continue using Safe Capital, in which case the ongoing cost would be determined by the firm's transactional volume (according to Land Registry) in the previous calendar year (2019). We would also offer you 50% off your first year subscription as a thank you for your participation in this study.
To Register for the study, we simply need you to complete our regular signup process for conveyancing firms.
In step one, we ask for your email address at your firm. We will send an email to the address you enter, containing a link that we need you to click in order to verify your email address.
Once you have verified your email address you will be returned to our website and asked to provide further details about your firm, including your bank details. We need these so we can verify them and provision a secure bank details checking widget for your firm.
Your registration will be recorded as part of the study. As such we will not request any payment information from you at this time, and your agreement to use Safe Capital will terminate automatically on 30th November 2019 unless you choose to continue using it after the end of the study.
If you have any questions about the study please contact Matt Pennington (firstname.lastname@example.org).