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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 54552
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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The story is. I sent some invoices out to 16 customers prior

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HelloThe story is. I sent some invoices out to 16 customers prior to going on holiday. 10 hours later I receive a phone call from one of the customers saying he had received an email from myself stating that the banking details had changed. I told him to ignore it as it was just a scam email. I went on holiday only to find on my return two other customers had received the same emails and they both paid the monies owed into a fraudulent account. One of the customers admitted they had been negligent and should have looked into the matter. The other customer is claiming I have been negligent because as a business I should have alerted all of my customers after receiving the phone call from the first customer bearing in mind it was a 10pm and I had left my home and was due to catch a plane at 3am the following morning. Further to this I told that customer after the incident that I had noticed something unusual on my email 2 days prior to going on holiday but I found out later that this was just a legitimate alternative email address I had showing in my address box and I was unaware that I had another email address as this was included years ago when I set up my PC by the installer. He is claiming that this adds further to the fact that I should have alerted my customers. The question is. Do I have a legal obligation as a business to notify my customers if I receive a phone call like I did alerting them of the fact that there is a scam email going about? Surely they have an obligation to ensure that the email is genuine as well? The customer in question did try to contact me in various ways whilst I was away but I received no communication.RergardsMichael

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

You say there is a CCJ, is that something you obtained after claiming against the customer?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
It went to mediation without success so is now proceeding to court.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
No thank you. Just an answer to the question: Do I have a legal obligation as a business to notify my customers if I receive a phone call like I did alerting them of the fact that there is a scam email going about?

Thank you. Whilst there is no direct legal obligation for you to do this, it is likely to be an argument under your common law duty of care – that you had a duty of care to notify your clients as soon as practicable about this, rather than just leaving it as it was. I do not doubt that a court would consider you had a duty of care to inform them if you were on notice that there was a scam. The next issue is how soon was it reasonably practicable for you to inform them. You say you had reasons that meant it was not reasonable to inform them exactly at the time when you found out so a court would look at what was a reasonable timeline for you to have informed them, such as the next day potentially. It all depends on the judge on the day to be honest and some may think that taking a couple of minutes that evening to send a very quick email advising them to hold off payment whilst you resolve this would not have been unreasonable. Others may agree that at that specific time it would not have been expected of you, but at the next opportunity you should have done so. I just don’t see a court saying that once you were on notice there was a scam and knowing that your customers would have likely received that email, you would have been allowed to do nothing to bring this to their attention. This is all under the common law duties under negligence, so whilst not a specific law, this duty can arise based on the circumstances.

Does this answer your question?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
thank you. I was not fully aware that a scam was in process until this second customer who is refusing to pay informed me that he had been the victim of fraud. All I had was the phone call from another customer regarding the email he got about the change of banking details. For all I know it could have been them who were hacked!

Agreed, but what I mentioned was that you were aware something untoward was probably happening so a quick 'hold your horses' email to customers not to pay you until you have tried to work out what was going on may have been expected of you. But as mentioned, there is no specific law requiring you to have done this, it all comes down to whether the court on the day decides this was a reasonable steps you should have taken and the opinion on this could differ. Does this clarify?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I understand.

you are most welcome and all the best

Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Sorry just need to post a reply last as the system thinks you are still waiting for an answer

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