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Safe Capital Market Study

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Safe Capital Market Study

Safe Capital is a fraud risk mitigation tool, with a particular emphasis for conveyancers on the risk of Friday Afternoon and Email Modification Fraud

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.

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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.

Market Research & Product Fit

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.

Safe Capital v1

  1. Your client receives your bank details as part of the welcome pack, with a call to action that they must use a secure service on your website to verify that the details are correct. The site also contains anti-fraud training they must complete before their transaction can proceed.
  2. In the meantime, you have added your clients date of birth and case reference number to the secure service.
  3. Your client visits your website, is prompted to read some content about the dangers of "Friday Afternoon Fraud", and then is asked to enter their case reference, date of birth and the bank details they believe to be yours.
  4. If the bank details are entered correctly, the process is completed. If they are entered incorrectly then the service prompts the client to provide more information about where the details came from and then alerts you to a potential risk.
  5. If the bank details were entered correctly, the secure service then holds a record that the client received your correct bank details and confirmed they have been made aware of the risk of "Friday Afternoon Fraud" by your firm.

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).

Safe Capital Pilot Study - What we’ve learned so far

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.

Confirmation of Payee (CoP)

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.

Our Revised Proposition

Following feedback from our initial pilot study, for a fixed annual fee our service now includes:

  • For your clients - Factsheets, apps and website tools that educate clients about the fraud risks facing them and allow them to securely verify they have the correct bank details for the firm
  • For your team - fraud risk training for your staff that specifically covers the main types of “authorised push payment” fraud that your firm faces - Friday Afternoon Fraud, CEO Fraud and Invoice Fraud.

Protecting your Clients

We offer two mechanisms by which firms can allow their clients to verify their bank details securely, as well as educate them about the fraud risks facing them during the course of their conveyancing transaction. These are:

  • The Safe Capital Mobile App
  • The Website Verification Widget
Safe Capital Mobile App

Safe Capital generates a secure QR Code for your law firm that you can add to your invoices (or to any other correspondence where you wish to enclose bank details).

Using the Safe Capital App, your client can scan the QR Code. The App displays the correct bank details for your firm - providing reassurance to the client that your invoice and the bank details are authentic.

Through the app the your client also has access to educational materials about the fraud risks they face during the course of a conveyancing transaction.

Website Verification Widget

In addition to the Safe Capital App you can add the Safe Capital Bank Details Verification Widget to your website. An example is included below.

Using the Verification Widget your clients are able to securely and safely verify that they have the correct bank details for your firm before sending you funds, as well as learn about the risks they face from fraudsters during the course of their conveyancing transaction.

About this Example: In this example the client is involved in a property transaction, and the particular risks facing them are explained. The firm has also chosen to log case reference numbers for individuals who have read the fraud advice. Safe Capital offers a range of widgets and logging levels - find out more

Impact on Fraud Risk Mitigation

We believe that when Safe Capital is deployed within a firm it provides a multi-pronged approach to fraud risk mitigation for your clients as follows:

  • Include the fraud factsheets in your client correspondence
  • Publish your bank details through the Safe Capital App, so that any client with a Smartphone can verify they have your correct bank details and learn more about fraud risks.
  • Add the Verification Widget to your website, providing an alternative verification mechanism for anyone without a smartphone and additional reassurance to all clients.

Protecting your Firm

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.

The feedback we received from our pilot study was that we should 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.

Safe Capital Market Study Overview

What we are looking for

We want to work with several law firms who are willing to:

  1. Use the Safe Capital App with their clients and add the Verification Widget to their website (see the “Revised Proposition” section above for more details about these)
  2. Have their teams complete the three training programmes
  3. Provide our fraud factsheets to their clients (either by post or digitally) to encourage them to learn more about the risks facing them, as part of their onboarding process

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 two month study - we want to have all participating firms live on our platform by Friday 27th November, with the study concluding on Friday 29th January 2021.

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.

What we need from you before the study commences

  • We need you to verify your bank details with us in order that we can provision a version of our secure bank details checking tool for your firm to add to your website and generate a QR Code for you to use with the Safe Capital App
  • We need you to add the Verification Widget to your website (see an example widget here).

What we need from you during the study

  • Feedback on the training modules from your team. This will be requested from anyone in your team after they complete a given training module, and we will need your help to encourage them to provide feedback.
  • For any clients who instructs you during the course of the trial, we need you to:
    • provide our fraud factsheets to them (either by post or digitally)
    • include your firm's QR code and information about the Safe Capital App, instead of including your bank details like you normally would

What we need from you at the end of the study

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.

What a good outcome would look like for us

A good outcome for us from the study would be that:

  • Your team have found the fraud risk training informative, easy to use and ultimately beneficial
  • You see a value in Safe Capital as part of the fraud risk mitigation strategy at your firm going forward
  • Your feel Safe Capital is helping protect your clients from fraud

The cost

Usage of the Safe Capital Platform will be free of charge for your firm until 28th February 2021. This allows the study to conclude on Friday 29th January 2021 and a grace period. 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.

Register for the Market 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 28th February 2021 unless you choose to continue using it after the end of the study.

Join the market study

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the study please contact Matt Pennington (mp@safecapital.co.uk).