Smart Practices to Help You Prevent Wire Fraud
Real estate transactions are often the target of fraud because they involve large sums of money. Cybercriminals looking for a big payday often hack into email systems, and lie in wait for someone to make the wrong move—whether it’s a buyer, seller, real estate agent, attorney, or title company.
Here’s how it works: Once hackers gain access to an email account, they monitor messages to find someone involved in the home-buying process. They email fraudulent wire transfer instructions that appear as if they came from a professional source. From there, the buyer may send funds to the hacker, unaware that they’ve just been robbed.
Keep Devices Secure
How do you keep your wire transfer out of the hands of cybercriminals? Make sure your computer, phone, and mobile devices are secure. Also, make sure to have good email and password practices so you’re less vulnerable. A few best practices include:
- Don’t click if you’re not sure: Never click on unknown attachments or links, so you don’t download malware.
- Keep your email secure: Use encrypted email, a transaction management platform, or a secure document-sharing program.
- Guard your credentials: Keep your login and access to credentials for email and other services secure and don’t share the information.
- Keep your email tidy: Regularly delete old emails from your account and archive essential emails in a secure location.
- Use smart password practices: Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts, and use longer, more elaborate passwords, including phrases or a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. If you’re scared you won’t remember these types of passwords, consider using a password manager.
- Stay away from public WIFI: Avoid doing business over public WIFI because it isn’t secure.
Know the Process
Another smart strategy for foiling cybercriminals is to know your title company’s process for wiring funds. For instance, Mattingly Ford Title has policies against emailing wiring instructions. Make sure you know who is an approved contact for your transaction, and keep that information handy when you are doing a wire transfer.
Before responding to any emails related to your transfer, check the sender’s email address to ensure it’s accurate. Cybercriminals often use email addresses that are similar to your approved contact. Another way to avoid responding via email to an unapproved contact is to “forward” instead of “reply.” Then, manually type in your approved contact’s email helps to reduce the chances of fraud.
Another red flag is if your wiring instructions suddenly change. Changes to wiring instructions are rare and should only come from your closing agent. It typically takes 72 hours to wire money, so cyber criminals will request wire changes on a Friday or just before a holiday, so funds are gone before anyone notices.
Confirm Your Transaction
Last but not least, make sure to confirm your transaction with your title company or real estate agent to make sure funds are received. If you can identify that money was sent to the wrong account within 24 hours, you have the best chance of stopping the transaction and recovering your funds.
If You Suspect Fraud
Immediately notify the financial institutions and title company involved in the transaction. Also, contact local law enforcement authorities, and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Mattingly Ford Real Estate Closing Services
Our job is to make all real estate transactions secure, accurate, and official, and we want to make the process as hassle-free as possible. That’s why our clients trust us for fast, friendly, and accurate closing services at a fair price.