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SRA issues bogus firm advice to profession

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has issued guidance to the profession on how to guard against identity theft.

The information backs up information already published for consumers in light of a the SRA discovering a number of fake firms in the last few years. While the situation is not seen as a huge problem, the SRA has still produced information that should in some cases help firms prevent conmen posing as a bogus branch of their practice.

The fraudsters are pretending to set up branches of legitimate law firms, but listing business addresses that are merely empty offices that have been rented out. The advice includes tips such as searching the internet and the "Find a Solicitor" page.

Go to advice page

David Middleton SRA Executive Director said: "We've had a number of bogus firms in operation in recent years and we want to help protect genuine firms from having their identity stolen in such a way. Any firm that discovers its identity has been stolen should contact us and their insurers and also consider legal action such an injunction either to stop misleading statements or to freeze assets if money has gone missing.

"Firms are at risk because even if they are said to be the victim of the fraud, they could be held liable for breach of trust in paying away mortgage monies. For that reason, we've listed a number of steps firms can take and some of the things they should look out for to protect both themselves and the public.

"Firms cannot assume that we or the police can take direct steps to protect your firm. We each will do what we can, but we do not regulate the people perpetrating these frauds and our powers over them are relatively limited."

Any firm that thinks its identity might have been stolen should contact the Red Alert Line.

The SRA's tips for the public to help them verify the firm they want to use is genuine were accompanied by a video with useful tips. The SRA also publishes alerts about any bogus firms it finds out about, all of which can be found on the consumer pages of its website.

Go to the consumer pages

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