When you’re dealing with a solicitor, you have to trust them one hundred percent. These are people you’re often sharing very personal information with, people who will be acting on your behalf, and, very often, people who have access to sizable sums of your money. So it’s little wonder there are a few unsavoury characters out there trying to prey on the unsuspecting.
With that in mind, how can you be sure the person you’re dealing with is genuine? How do you spot a bogus or scam solicitor?
Don’t Be Taken In
A scam solicitor is trying to get you to fall for them, so don’t be deceived by the simple fact they have a professional-looking website promoting their services and record. If you really want to be sure, avoid the sales patter and check their credentials. Solicitors go through years of training and there are plenty of registration schemes you can look at.
Check Their SRA Registration
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) maintains a roll of solicitors on which all who currently practise should be registered. You can check this by asking the solicitors for their roll number, otherwise known as an SRA ID. If they’re advertising themselves as a solicitor but they’re not on the roll, then they’re bogus and committing a criminal offence.
Use the Law Society’s Search Facility
The Law Society maintains an online directory of practising solicitors that contains the details of almost all the professionals they regulate. While a few solicitors have asked for their names to be removed and some who are no longer practising remain, it’s otherwise a fairly authoritative guide.
They’ll Check You Too
It’s not all one-way traffic. A genuine solicitor is obliged to check potential customers in a face-to-face meeting, as a means of combatting money laundering. If the solicitor you’re dealing with doesn’t take this step, then you need to be concerned about whether they’re as genuine as they say they are.
Other Classic Scam Signs
These are some of the ways to make sure your solicitor is genuine, but most other ways of spotting a scam remain important. What do you look for in a scam email for instance? Do communications appear unprofessional, suffering from bad grammar and poor spelling? These are classic fraudster trademarks.
Aggressive pursuit of early payment by phone or email is also a tell-tale sign of illegitimacy. Never be pressurised into making an early payment. A legitimate law firm will always follow due process and answer your questions fully.
What Else Can You Do?
If you suspect you may have fallen victim to a fraudulent solicitor, you should report it to the police immediately for full investigation. Get in touch with the SRA and the Law Society as well, and take all reasonable steps to protect yourself and your property. Use the tools above to find a reputable law firm to help you out. Here at Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we’re registered with all the correct professional bodies and will be happy to help.