We are particularly fortunate here at McCarthy + Co. in that much of our business had been done online even before the pandemic struck and we have been dealing with clients all over Ireland remotely for years. This has meant that we have had the technology and systems in place to be able to continue with business as usual largely uninterrupted with a few important exceptions whenever it is necessary and unavoidable to arrange physical meetings.
However, the move to wider remote working has come with its challenges and risks and it is important to be aware and conscious of these.
First of all, we are obliged to establish the identity of all of our clients for the purposes of anti-money laundering regulations. While this has been commonplace for years, it comes with a few additional challenges where we are not meeting face to face, at least not initially. Where we work with you online or remotely we may need to take some additional steps to verify your identity in order to comply with regulations and we trust that you will bear with us as we do so. Wherever we receive funds from you for the purposes of transactions we may be undertaking on your behalf, we are obliged to satisfy ourselves on the source of funds and we may need to obtain some details from you on this and we appreciate your co-operation in working through these regulatory requirements together, particularly where we are not able to meet face to face as easily as we might have done in the past.
Secondly, we need to have a heightened awareness of the threat of cybercrime when we are all working remotely. Cybercriminals exploit uncertainty and changes in communication patterns; they are particularly devious with what is known as social engineering tactics, where they try to trick us into thinking that communications coming from the cybercriminals are actually coming from others whom we believe we can trust.
Email is particularly vulnerable to social engineering attempts and when we are each more isolated from each other when working remotely out of our normal working environments. When working from home we may be using different devices or sharing devices with others, which may make them more susceptible to attack by cybercriminals and fraudsters.
For all of these reasons, please always remember that we will never, ever contact you by email in relation to a banking or financial transaction. Similarly, we will never rely solely on an email from you to provide us with bank account details or other important financial information. Where we do have to exchange information with you electronically we will always take precautions to verify the information with you separately over the phone or by physical documentation sent by post.
When you speak to us to confirm details over the phone, please only do so by calling our main office number on 023 888 00 88 and always ensure that you speak to someone who you are familiar with and recognise. We have heard of cybercrime attempts where people are sent fraudulent emails seeming to come from a real business with a phone number in the email asking the person to call that number to verify the bank details. The person then calls the number thinking that they are contacting the business when in fact they are speaking to the fraudsters who then dupe the person into thinking that they have double-checked their bank details in a responsible fashion.
If you ever receive what seems like an email from us requesting bank details from you, do not engage with anything in the email and call us on 023 888 00 88 instead.
All of this may mean that things may take a little longer to deal with and we may need to go through a few steps to double-check and make sure that everything is in order. When we do so, we hope that you understand that it is essential for the purposes of protecting the security of your transactions and ensuring that we keeping you safe in your dealings with us.
Stay safe both online and off.