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Protip: Pay Clients, Not Scammers

By George Khoury, Esq. on January 25, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Have you read about the Canadian law firm that accidentally disbursed $2.5 million in client funds to hackers? It's not a joke. It happened, and now the firm is caught in a nuanced legal battle over coverage with their insurer.

In our increasingly technological world, clients may often want you to use tech for their convenience. However, when it comes to disbursing funds, doing so electronically should be done very, very, very carefully, and only after some form of multi-factor authentication. Social engineering hacks are more sophisticated than they have ever been before, and, as the above example shows, the hackers are learning how to exploit lawyers by impersonating clients.

Below, you can get a few tips on how to avoid disbursing funds to a scammer rather than your actual client.

Disburse Funds in Person

Nothing's better than being Ed McMahon for a few minutes and handing over a large check to your client. Disbursing funds in person using a physical check is one way to be absolutely certain hackers can't intercept a payment, and if you use have one of those large dry-erase poster-board checks, it can make for a great photo-op.

Video Conference Confirmation

So as to avoid the same fate as the Canadian firm, if you're doing an electronic fund transfer, that can also be done in person, or, potentially, while you have your client on a FaceTime call, or other form of video conference. Confirming account numbers and identities before making the final click on a transfer could very well be what saves you from making a big mistake.

Don't Rely on Emails, or Electronic Communications, Alone

While technology may make life more convenient and make businesses run more efficiently, certain things, like disbursing funds, requires a personal touch. And if there have been changes to how the client wants funds disbursed, or solely electronic communications, you'll want to connect in a way that you can be 100% certain that you're actually communicating with your client.

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