Real Estate Fraud 101 | Would You Know It if You Saw it?
Avoiding Fraud – Whether by compromised data, cracked passwords or phishing, real estate is a target for cybercriminals.
More and more, homebuyers and sellers and the practitioners who serve them-are reporting theft via wire fraud, in which criminals access emails, learn of a pending transaction, and then message phony wiring instructions to victims.
Bogus DocuSign emails, emails with illegitimate referrals and ransomware are also on the rise.
Being a victim of wire fraud can be devastating – the funds are almost always irretrievable once sent. Aside from making off with money, criminals can filch Personally Identifiable Information (PII), through any or a combination of schemes.
So how can you protect yourself when buying a home?
- Being aware that you may be a target is key to protecting yourself from fraud. By educating yourself on the danger, you’re much more likely to identify suspicious activities and changes to a procedure that are utilized by hackers.
- Be sure that you clearly understand the wiring instructions for your transaction, and ensure that you’re getting that information from a verified source. Title and settlement companies should send you instructions on your wire transfer through a secured service, not just through an email. Many will also have their standard procedures posted on their website. Make a phone call to a number that’s listed on the title or settlement agency’s website to speak with a real person to verify the information. Don’t just call the number listed at the bottom of the written instructions – that information could be bogus too.
- If something seems wrong or fishy, it probably is. If you are sent a message requesting a partial payment, notifying you in a change in the deadline for your transfer, or detailing a new procedure for your wire transfer, don’t do anything without talking to your agent. Last minutes changes are big red flags.
Article by: Suzanne De Vita
Avoiding Fraud is brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes team.