Being protected in today’s digital age is incredibly important. Today, I want to go over some of the ways you can prevent a particularly insidious scam which often targets buyers in real estate: wire fraud.
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Today I would like to bring you some information about a particularly insidious scam. I’m talking about wire fraud, and it particularly pertains to the environment of buying and selling a home.
Wire fraud is something I hope you never have to experience. Nevertheless, it’s incredibly important to be informed. Wire fraud occurs when a home is close to closing and the buyer needs to wire funds to a title company.
Hackers will send a fake email to a buyer, giving them instructions to wire funds to a different account. Once the money is sent, there is no way to get it back.
Rarely does a seller ever have to send funds via wiring, but it does happen. This could affect either party in a transaction. Even if the seller is not the one being scammed, they will still be affected if the buyer is left unable to close as a result of wire fraud.
There are a few different ways you can identify and avoid this scam:
1. Use encrypting. If you are sending any personal information, send it through encrypting. If you don’t know how to do this, feel free to reach out and let us help.
2. Confirm the wiring instructions are correct. Before you send the money, you can simply give a phone call to the title company. Don’t use the phone number on the scam email, though. Use a phone number you receive directly from an agent.
3. Clean your emails out regularly. This will prevent any hackers from noticing habits you may have and learning information about you. It could even prevent hackers from knowing you’re buying or selling a home at all.
4. Change usernames and passwords regularly. Using the same information across multiple platforms and for long periods of time can hurt your security.
5. Never click links in suspicious emails. These links can take you to dangerous websites, cause viruses, or give hackers access to your information.
6. Don’t conduct business on unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Hotels, coffee shops, and restaurants aren’t secure places to do business.
7. Trust your instincts. If you see something that is off, don’t trust it. As an example, there was an email that was once sent to a buyer with a history of emails. It looked as if there had been a string of emails over a series of days, all to make the message look more authentic. Emails like these can even appear to be coming from your agent.
8. Implement up-to-date virus protection. Having anti-virus software will be critical. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
9. Make sure all parties have security measures in place. You aren’t the only party who needs to be protected in order for your information and money to stay safe. Don’t send any personal information like your social security number to your agent. They don’t need it, and this would be a massive red flag.
If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.