08 Feb Cybercrime & Security Measures When Purchasing Property
In the age of technology, cybercrime has never been more prominent, and the property industry is no stranger to hacking attempts, intercepted emails, and down right fraud.
Our team at Louw & Coetzee Attorneys, in partnership with Louw & Coetzee Properties, aims to ensure the safety and security of our clients, and their equity.
Cybercrime in the Property Buying Process
Cybercrime encompasses multiple forms of criminal activity involving technology, such as computers and cell phones, as well as the internet, which is woven into day-to-day tasks in our everyday lives.
According to our Conveyancing Attorney, Cheney Ras, “electronic communications are accessed, monitored, and replaced with emails that are similar to emails that may be expected by the recipient. The emails are ultimately aimed at deceiving the recipient into accepting the trustworthiness and integrity of the email and acting thereon.”
This form of intercepted email communication may mean that the hacker has swapped two digits of an account number around, or swapped letters in an email address, and sent it through to you within minutes, sometimes even seconds, swiftly deceiving the recipient.
It is important to note that these forms of intercepted emails can look like the real deal, and has proven to mislead individuals, such as was the case for Sonnenberg in the Hawarden v Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs case.
The Importance of Judgement
To highlight the dangers of cybercrime, as well as raise awareness, the court is responsible for taking the necessary action required, for the benefit of others to aid in less individuals falling victim to cybercrime.
Strict judgement ensures:
- A minimum standard for the transfer of sensitive or confidential information.
- Consequences of not having adequate information security measures in place, which could cause financial & reputational damage.
- Organizations promote a culture of awareness about the risks of several types of cybercrimes to ensure that client’s trust the organization’s business and brand.
Practical Steps to Ensure Security
In order to avoid falling victim to the plight of cybercrime and fraud, our team at Louw & Coetzee have implemented strict security measures:
- Our Agent from Louw & Coetzee Properties will never provide a client with the banking details of an Attorney.
- The Agent will inform their client to contact the appointed Transfer Attorney to verify the banking details telephonically.
- Our Attorneys will suggest a test payment to manage risk and clients are advised to first make a test payment and await the attorneys’ confirmation of receipt thereof, before continuing to pay any further payment.
Cheney Ras highly recommends a test payment, as this builds trust with the client, as well as ensures the safety of the clients’ funds.
Security Measures of Louw & Coetzee Attorneys
Our team makes use of an up-to-date and modern Conveyancing & Secure Chat software platform which ensures an encrypted communication line between all parties.
- The secure chat software used is a secure communication channel integrated with our conveyancing software.
- Once the file is opened, a welcome message is sent to the recipient advising them to activate their account. Clients must activate their accounts to access the platform messages.
- Documents can be sent via the secure platform which integrates directly into our software matter.
- Messages are encrypted, reducing your exposure to cybercrime, and is in-line with POPIA.
- The recipient will be notified of a new secure chat message via email where they click the link to log-in to the conveyancing software website to view the message.
- The secure chat software is restricted to chats between two parties, providing point-to-point communication.
Correspondence & Guidelines
- We will never send our bank details via e-mail.
- We will never amend our bank details via e-mail.
- No e-mail requests for payment will ever be accompanied by bank details.
- Bank details we attach to a message should be the bank details used during the course of the business relationship and if during the course of the business relationship any request for amendments of bank details are made, the client is advised to urgently phone our offices.
- We strongly advise that clients verify the banking details telephonically with our office at our designated landline, prior to making any payment. Do not use amendments of contact details provided in any e-mail, as once again, this can be intercepted.
- Clients will be required to accept the approved secure platform invitation and register as a user. By registering, you can keep track of your transaction, receive weekly updates, and all communication can be sent to you on a secure and safe platform.
The above guidelines have been implemented to reduce the risk of fraudulent interception of e-mails and ensure our clients’ security. If our clients are to receive an e-mail request for payment that contains any form of bank details, they are to verify these details telephonically with our office prior to making any payments.
It is important to note that our e-mails all end in “@louwcoetzee.co.za”, which is a registered and secure domain. Any e-mail not corresponding with this email should be regarded as suspicious and reported to our office immediately. Suspicious emails could purport to look like a legitimate account when it is not, for example: “firstname.lastname@example.org” – always hover over an account name to read the full email account name where the domain is visible.
We trust this article has informed you and provided you with peace of mind, knowing that we have your best interest at heart, and will do everything in our power to ensure your financial security against cybercrime.
Should you have any concerns, please contact Cheney Ras at 021 976 3180