Ever been caught out by scammers?
It seems that nearly everyone knows someone who has been affected by some sort of fraud. I recently heard a retired detective describe fraud as ‘theft with a smile’ which is chilling.
I was prompted to write this article after watching Martin Lewis on television this morning. He was raising awareness about scammers using Facebook to encourage financial investments but using his name and image to promote these schemes. Martin Lewis has become synonymous with saving people money and helping people to be more conscious about their investments and bills. With these adverts appearing on the well-known social media channel, Martin has decided to take action. He has used all the appropriate channels including notifying the Advertising Standards Authority, Action Fraud and Facebook themselves. Now he is suing the platform.
Fraudsters are now more clever than ever and are going to even greater lengths to part you from your money. As the largest self-regulatory body governing the profession of Will Writing, the Society of Will Writers (SWW) provide a regulatory framework for over 1700 members. These members are expected to adhere to a defined set of standards and provide proof of professional indemnity insurance (PII) which meets SWW requirements. The process of gaining membership to the SWW isn’t too onerous but we do expect certain proficiency standards to be able to substantiate our claims that we protect the consumer.
Why does this matter? Your money matters to you and our profession is essentially unregulated meaning anyone can claim themselves to be a Will Writer. You really ought to do your due diligence on someone offering estate planning services before providing them with personal information and of course any money. The thing with Will writing is that the person or company taking your Will writing instructions finds out an awful lot about you and your finances, potentially meaning they have the ability to do an awful lot of damage. It is for this reason that you should check that the person has an up to date I.D. card or certificate of compliance from the SWW. Take their membership number from them and ring us to allow us to check that they are a member. Alternatively, look at our website on our find a member function. The vast majority of our members opt to appear on our website and this validates their membership status.
If you ever have any doubts about a Will Writer or a claim that they are making then err on the side of caution. It’s better to satisfy yourself that your affairs are being put in order properly than to be worrying that they aren’t.
The same information applies if you were to seek the advice of a solicitor. Seek confirmation from the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
If the company or person has no professional accreditation then I would begin to ask questions. The cost of membership and additional protection this affords is more than covered in the confidence that it provides to clients.
Look out for this logo: