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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Cybersecurity, fraud prevention and lawtech

21 April 2020

Overview

The current lockdown has changed the way legal services are delivered. These changes have presented an opportunity for cyber-criminals and fraudsters.

The Home Secretary has reported that cases of fraud and scams have increased significantly since lockdown.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has flagged scams related to the business support measures that are currently available from the government.

We're supporting solicitors and law firms to:

  • prevent fraud and scams and help their clients to stay cyber-safe
  • safely deliver legal services online
  • run their organisations effectively by using legal technology

Preventing fraud and scams

Recognising scams

Fraudsters are taking advantage of the measures announced by the government to support people and businesses affected by coronavirus. For example, scammers may text, email or phone taxpayers pretending to offer financial support or tax refunds, or demanding payment of tax that they claim is owed.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has published information on coronavirus scams, which have included:

  • fake offers of tax rebates, to solicit bank details
  • fake safety information emails, with attachments that download a keylogger, giving scammers access to users’ personal details
  • fake charity emails asking for donations

You should treat any unsolicited email, text or phone call with caution. Do not open attachments, follow links or provide any information unless you are sure that it is genuine. 

See the government’s guidance:

Read our guidance on how to identify a cyber attack

Reporting scams

The government has published guidance on how to avoid and report scams.

Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk, or texts to 60599.

If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam:

Read our guidance on what to do after a cyber attack

Reporting Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme fraud

The government has asked that individuals and employers play a role in making sure that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not abused, as fraudulent claims take money from the NHS.

Fraud could include an employer:

  • claiming money from the scheme but not paying employees what they’re entitled to
  • asking employees to work while on furlough
  • making a backdated claim that includes times when employees were working

If you are concerned an employer is abusing the scheme you should report your concerns via the GOV.UK website.

Safely delivering legal services online

We’ve published resources to help members in delivering legal services:

Comprehensive threat analysis and guidance about malicious cyberattacks and actors is available from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). We recommend that you monitor the NCSC website regularly for the latest information.

Sign up to our cybersecurity and GDPR news digest to receive cybersecurity news relevant to the legal sector.

Using lawtech to run your organisation effectively

We’re working with partners that are offering lawtech products and services that could help in running your firm during the coronavirus pandemic. Find out more about support and offers from partners.

View all our information and guidance on lawtech