In the technological day and age we live in, it’s important for Chicago attorneys to understand that while they advise clients who have experienced fraud, their own Chicago law firm is equally at risk for being targeted by scammers.
New and often times highly-sophisticated scams are popping up every day, and as the scammers get smarter, so must we.
In order to help safeguard your law firm in Chicago, we’ve compiled a list of three refined scams that were specifically targeted toward attorneys and their practices and how to overcome these situations should your firm encounter them.
1. Online Traffic Monitoring
Just last year, Amata Law Office Suites sought to update and renew our logo through the Patent and Trademark office. During the process, we received invoices that appeared to be genuine from the Patent and Trademark office. These invoices even included the trademark we were renewing, putting the finishing touch on the initial appearance of legitimacy.
Had it not been for a series of checks and balances within our accounting department, Amata Law Office Suites would’ve lost over $5,000 to this scam.
How does a scam like this happen? Online traffic monitoring.
How can you prevent your Chicago law firm from falling prey?
Checks and balances
Maintain a dual check system to verify whether or not invoices have already been paid.
Read the fine print
The fine print on our fraudulent invoice noted that they were not affiliated with the publication of the official International Patent Application registration and was not a registration by a government entity.
Validate your invoice
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you are ever unsure about the validity of an invoice, pick up the phone and call - not the number on the check, but rather the number located on the legitimate website.
2. Hacking Into Your Chicago Law Firm’s Computers
A British Columbia law firm recently lost six figures to a scammer, and their experience is a learning lesson for other attorneys. The law firm’s computers had been hacked, and when one of the attorneys went on vacation, the scammers took advantage of the open window.
The scammers sent an email from the vacationing attorney’s account requesting emergency funds be transferred to one of their client’s bank accounts. While the assistant tried to perform due diligence in calling the attorney, the hackers’ sophisticated means of fraud allowed them to block the assistant’s calls, and they then followed up with another email explaining that they couldn’t talk at the moment.
How can you protect your law firm in Chicago from a situation like this?
Put into place strict protocols
Protect yourself, your firm, and your staff by putting in place strict protocols that define when something like the scenario above should be allowed such as stating that it is only permissible with a phone call from the attorney.
Educate your staff
Ensure your entire Chicago law firm is up-to-date on the latest scams. While this can be difficult to keep up with, it’s important to regularly discuss things your firm can become a victim of.
Invest in computer security
As a Chicago attorney, you likely understand the vast importance of protecting your firm’s records. Follow this list of 5 things you can do to enhance the cyber security for your practice.
3. IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts) Check Fraud
While check fraud isn’t a new concept, it’s still one that is vastly used today. Depending on your clientele, your law firm in Chicago has the potential to fall prey to check fraud in relation to your IOLTA account.
Typically, the scammers will regenerate fraudulent checks using the bank information, routing number, and account number from your legitimate check and cash them quickly to ensure your monthly accounting processes don’t detect the fraud before they’ve secured the funds.
How can Chicago lawyers circumvent IOLTA check fraud?
Talk to your bank
Many banks have secure checking programs that offer you the opportunity to upload copies of your written checks. The bank will then verify every presented check before disbursing funds to ensure your law firm’s financial security.
While scammers are becoming a regular part of everyday business dealings, it’s important that Chicago attorneys take preventative measures, both inside their practice and out, to avoid the financial heartaches that come with falling prey to attorney fraud.
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