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Unfortunately there are times when criminals will hold themselves out to be solicitors in an attempt to scam members of the public and take their money. While we do all we can to prevent this from happening, it’s still important that you’re aware of the risks and know how to avoid potential scams.
Below are some ways of checking that a solicitor is indeed who they say they are.
And, for a list of recent scams to watch out for, visit our scam alert page.
We hold a database of all practising solicitors in Scotland and Scottish solicitors who work abroad. So before you deal with a firm of solicitors, search for them using our ‘Find a Solicitor’ tool. If the firm or the individual solicitor don’t appear in the search results, they may not be entitled to practise law.
By April 2016, all solicitors in Scotland should have a professional ID called a Smartcard to prove that they are indeed allowed to practise law. You can ask your solicitor to show you this card to prove they are who they say they are. Each card will have a unique number which can be inputted on our website as a way of checking the solicitor’s status.
Just because a supposed law firm have a professional-looking website, it doesn’t mean you should trust them. In the past scam law firms have created slick websites promoting their services (often replicating the websites of real law firms) in the hope of deceiving members of the public. If you’re unsure, use our ‘Find a Solicitor’ tool.
If you’re a new client of a solicitor’s, they are required to check your identity in a face-to-face meeting. This is to protect against potential money laundering. If someone claiming to be a solicitor skips this important step, you should beware.
Criminals involved in scams may ask for immediate payment over the phone or request your payment details via email. You should never be pressured into making a payment. Legitimate law firms will follow the correct process and will provide you with an itemised bill of what you owe if you request one. As well as this, all firms are required to have a client relations partner in place to answer any questions you have about the amount you’ve been charged.
Letters and emails sent from fraudsters may sometimes seem unprofessional, poorly written and contain spelling and grammar errors. If you notice any of these signs in a communication which claims to be from a law firm or a solicitor, there’s a chance they’re not who they say they are.
If you suspect a scam solicitor, make sure you report them to the police immediately. This will ensure the matter is investigated properly, any criminal activity is brought to a stop and other potential victims of the scam will be protected.