Home movers using Purplebricks face CHAOS as conveyancer Premier Property Lawyers shuts due to a security breach
- Simplify Group firms shut down online systems on Monday
- This followed an apparent security breach and left buyers unable to complete
- It has caused havoc for those who were in the process of moving home
- Group was making progress on getting systems up and running on Wednesday
- Have you been affected? Get in touch: [email protected]
Those buying and selling homes using online estate agent Purplebricks are seeing transactions disrupted after the agents’ conveyancing firm shut down its systems following a major security breach.
Premier Property Lawyers, the conveyancers recommended to customers selling homes via Purplebricks, took a number of its systems offline following the incident, which has been ongoing since Monday.
The breach led to buyers being unable to complete their purchases, with some saying they are stuck in limbo.
Customers using Purplebricks’ recommended conveyancers are facing moving delays
One said they had even packed all their possessions into a removal van, but were now unable to complete and therefore carry out the move.
Others say they have been trying unsuccessfully to get in touch on the phone or via the website for hours.
Purplebricks is the UK’s largest standalone estate agent and accounts for around 5 per cent of all properties sold in the UK.
Customers of other firms that recommend Premier Property Lawyers, including Yopa, Strike and Fine & Country, are also thought to have been affected.
The issue affected all of the companies under Premier Property Lawyers’ parent company, Simplify Group.
This also includes the conveyancing service My Home Move, Advantage Property Lawyers, JS Law and DC Law.
On Wednesday morning, it appeared Simplify had made some progress in getting their systems back online – although there was a backlog of transactions to work through.
A tweet sent across multiple Simplify Group accounts this morning read: ‘We have now restored systems sufficiently to process payments to enable clients to move.
‘We have been working through the backlog and continue to proactively contact clients who are scheduled to complete.’
On Wednesday lunchtime, Simplify Group updated its website to say that ‘Almost all contracted transactions with a fixed completion date are up to date.’
Clients are being directed to an online form where they were asked to detail what stage they were at in their property transaction and to provide contact details.
According to the CLC, the regulatory body for property lawyers, Simplify Group had ‘been affected by a security incident involving some IT systems.’
It said it had taken some of its systems offline in an attempt to contain the incident.
According to the CLC, Simplify Group has also ‘engaged a number of third-party cyber specialists to fully restore systems’ and ‘find ways to support clients’ property transactions’.
The nature of the security breach is unknown, but it has resulted in inability to access the IT systems needed to complete some transactions.
It has left customers unable to contact their conveyancers, as the Premier Property Lawyers website has been inaccessible for more than 24 hours.
It is not yet known whether customers’ personal data has been affected in any way.
A spokesperson for Purplebricks said: ‘We’re working with Simplify, our conveyancing partner in England and Wales, to understand when their service will be restored and are doing everything we can to help and support our customers in the meantime.’
‘I transferred them my life savings – now I can’t contact them’
Frustrated customers of Simplify Group conveyancing firms have got in touch with This is Money to tell us about the disruption they are facing, and voice their concerns about the safety of their personal data.
Some said they had transferred large sums of money to their conveyancers to purchase a home, but did not know whether their transaction had completed and were now unable to reach them.
Elise Thomas got in touch on behalf of her 71-year-old father, who was in the middle of selling a buy-to-let property for more than £120,000 when the security breach happened.
‘My father is beside himself with worry,’ she said. ‘His house completed on 5 November. The money went to Premier Property Lawyers from the buyer’s mortgage provider last Friday, and we were told to hand the keys over to the new buyers.
‘PPL told my father that the money would be in his account by end of play Friday. Now the phone lines are not working, nor is the website. My 71 year old father is worried he will never see the money again!’
Another anonymous customer said:
‘Premier Property Lawyers are holding £133,000 of our money. Completion was set for 12 November.
‘We have had no answer from Premier Property Lawyers as of yet, which is really worrying. This money is our family’s life savings.’
Others said they were packed and ready to move house, but were now unable to complete – leaving them stuck in limbo with everything in the back of a van.
Home mover Jason Greenwood said: ‘I’m stuck with everything in the back of a van. I was supposed to complete yesterday and be moved into my new house with my 7 year old. But I’m left with an empty house and all worldly goods in a van and costing me more money.
‘I don’t have a clue if my information is secure anymore as they have everything online such as passport photos, driving licence and bank details.’