Solicitors warned about store-card fraud
Solicitors should be particularly vigilant about becoming the subject of a fraudulent store card application in their name and the potential for large debts being run up without them being aware.
Legal defence and advice organisation the Lawyers Defence Group (LDG) is warning solicitors to be especially careful that they do not become the subject of identity theft and fraudulent store card applications, after it was revealed by one popular DIY store that a number of solicitors have been targeted in this way.
In a recent case a solicitor?s name was used by fraudsters to obtain store cards with Argos and Homebase (both of whom are members of the Home Retail Group) which were then used to run up bills of over ?3,500.
The solicitor received the store cards through the post and knowing that he had not applied for them contacted the stores fraud department. When replying to their question about his occupation he was informed that a number of solicitors had been the target of this fraud and that the criminals were using the Law Society?s web site as the starting point for getting information.
?There is a considerable amount of information about solicitors which is readily available,? commented Duncan Finlyson, himself a solicitor and manager of the LDG. ?The Law Society?s ?Find a Solicitor? service on their web site provides a significant amount of information which criminals can easily supplement by visiting a firm?s own web site, LinkedIn, Facebook and a plethora of information web sites such as PIPL and Zoominfo.?
Although in most cases those targeted will be able to demonstrate quite easily that they have not applied for the cards and are therefore not liable for any debts which have been incurred in their name, nevertheless the fraud can cause considerable disruption and could lead to negative credit ratings and similar financial ramifications.
?As we become ever more involved in social networking, online databases and individual and firm promotions, so it becomes ever easier for the criminal to use information about us to our detriment,? warned Finlyson. ?Solicitors are seen as being a good risk when it comes to credit applications and those who steal their identities know that public records, such as the Law Society?s solicitor list, can be used to substantiate identity claims.?
The LDG advises all solicitors to take steps, wherever possible, to limit the amount of personal information which is generally available and ensure profiles on web sites contain information about the solicitors job and not personal details that can be used to gain more information. Solicitors, and indeed everyone in business and positions of responsibility, should take basic steps to protect themselves including keeping important personal documents and financial information in a secure place, not sharing personal information unless sure as to whom it is being given, being wary of responding to unsolicited e-mails requesting information, disposing of documents and financial statements carefully and checking bank statements and reporting any suspicious transactions.