Attorneys Targeted by Scammers

Attorneys are being targeted by scammers passing bad settlement checks, or by hackers trying to infiltrate their computer systems to get confidential information such as the result of litigations or customer data. Interestingly, foreign governments may be behind the attacks. A law firm that filed a lawsuit against the Chinese government had its Gmail account hacked along with those of Chinese activists.

Checks are a big problem for law firms because of the chances of a bounced check. Companies such as Law Charge provide the service of depositing checks electronically, which takes a day or so out of the float period so you will know sooner if a check is fake. However, the best preventative measure is to know how to identify a fake check. Always ask clients for photo ID, make a copy, and compare the signatures. Make sure the check number on the bottom matches up with the check number printed on top, and that the routing number is nine digits. If it is a large amount, have the client wire the money to you. I had a prospective client who insisted on writing me a big check to hold in escrow for another party. I asked to have the money wired into the account instead of taking a certified check. Never heard from her again.

As far as computer security, all systems should be running fully-patched version of the software, and a anti-virus security suite. Users should not be running any programs that are not crucial to business functionality on their work systems, such as iTunes and the like. A file server should be secured against hackers by using non-standard ports, strong passwords, and setting them to reject IPs with a certain number of bad login attempts. Mail should be hosted with trustworthy companies.


  1. Great entry and good advice! As a new practitioner you should be aware of things that can go wrong and there are lots of them. Be careful with personal checks. They can bounce and cause lots of problems. As a rule of thumb, I did not accept personal checks and always requested cashiers checks or money orders.You can call to verify funds on cashiers checks. Another tip I have for new practitioners is don't spend until you are 100% certain that the money is really there and the check won't bounce. Be as careful as you can be.

    Protect yourself from the scammers and those that aren't necessarily "scammers" per se, but can still create problems for you.

    Always ask prospective clients how they found you. Don't just accept oh on the web....ask them where, what search engine and where. VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW in my opinion.

    I am not sure that I agree with the wire option if offering that option means sharing information that can be used against you, but I am not certain if it can. Wires may be a good know the money is in your account as it will be directly transferred from one account to another and the wire has to be set up by the account holder.


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