Real estate professionals are increasingly being targeted by scammers looking to compromise their email for the purpose of monitoring their email correspondences with clients and identifying real estate transactions.
The scammers send spoofed emails to homebuyers during the closing process posing as the legal representative, settlement agent, real estate agent, or other trusted individual with the incorrect instructions for wiring the funds.
How Can You Avoid a Mortgage Phishing Scam?
– Identify 2 trusted representatives who will confirm the closing process as well as the payment instructions. Discuss the closing process as well as the money transfer protocols either by phone or in person with those trusted individuals ahead of the mortgage closing. Avoid exchanging any details regarding the closing via email. You can also use the opportunity to come up with a code phrase that’s known only to the trusted parties should you need a secure way of confirming their identities in the future.
– Note down their names and contact details.
– Always confirm instructions with your trusted representatives before you wire any money. Never follow instructions provided in an email. Verify the closing instructions, including the account number and account name with your trusted representatives either via phone or in person.
– Never use links or phone numbers in an email. Scammers can closely replicate the phone number, email address, and format of an exchange from your agents. Don’t click on any links and avoid downloading attachments before you first confirm with your trusted representatives.
– Never email financial information. Emails isn’t a secure way of sending financial information.
– Be mindful of your phone conversations. It can be difficult at times to identify whether a phone call is legitimate or fraudulent. Scammers can call you and ask that you verify your financial or personal information. If in doubt, you can always refer to the trusted representatives to find out whether it is legitimate.
What Should You Do If It Happens to You?
– Contact your wire transfer company or bank immediately. Ask for a recall of the wire. If you report the error as soon as possible, you will have higher chances of recovering your money.
– File a complaint with the FBI. Visit www.ic3.gov to contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
While you might assume that you would never be the victim of this type of scam, the reality is that it is growing increasingly common and the results are often disastrous for eager homeowners. If you are mindful and take a few key steps before the closing, however, you can protect yourself as well as your loved ones.