Wire Transfer Scams in Real Estate Still Prevalent, NAR and FTC Warns
Despite countless warnings about wire transfer scams in real estate transactions, there are still homebuyers whose down-payment and closing-cost money sent through wire transfers are being stolen by email hackers and scammers according to the NAR and FTC.
Scammers are still able to use old tricks on their victims because they have become more sophisticated and subtle in their ways, giving homebuyers no reason to think that something is wrong.
Scammers track homebuyers’ emails to and from their realtors and when the time is right, they instruct the homebuyers to wire down-payment and closing-cost money to their own accounts, which most of the time are accounts overseas that are difficult to trace.
Here are ways to protect yourself from being victimized by email scammers:
1. Don’t click links in suspicious emails.
2. Don’t automatically run .exe programs.
3. Don’t provide personal information when answering unsolicited phone calls.
4. Don’t open email attachments if you don’t know the sender.
5. If you know the sender, but you feel there’s something uncharacteristic about the email, your hunch could
be true. Your sender’s email could have been spoofed. Contact your sender by text or call to verify.
6. Download free popular software from the developers’ websites, or from their partners’ websites.
7. Be suspicious if an email purporting to be from a company contains a lot of spelling and grammar errors.
Corporate emails are mostly written by professionals.
8. Be aware that scammers use email addresses and domain names that resemble those of companies and organizations.
9. Don’t discuss business and confidential matters over public wifi.
10. Update your firewall and anti-virus software systems.
11. Use usernames and passwords that are difficult to guess.
12. Know that scammers are able to create websites that look legitimate but are in fact pages made to collect personal information.
Advice for homebuyers about to wire money to real estate companies:
1. Always verify account names and account numbers through the phone number that you have been using since you started your home search.
2. Be suspicious of emails informing you about changes in the receiving account details.