What Is Real Estate Wire Fraud?

Real estate wire fraud is one of the fastest-growing cyber crimes in the US… but what is it exactly?

It’s actually a more specific form of phishing, that is, where a scammer uses email to impersonate someone you trust. In a real estate scenario, the scammer will typically impersonate your lender, closing attorney, or real estate agent, then instruct you to wire your closing funds to a false bank account. It might seem silly, but fraudsters are incredibly accurate and detailed, and once a wire transfer has been initiated, it’s very difficult to reverse. It’s become a very real problem for too many real estate investors.

So… how do you spot and avoid wire fraud?

3 Ways to SPOT Wire Fraud

At first sight, you might not even suspect that anything is off. You get an email from your lender with instructions for where to wire your closing costs. The font, the header, the logo, the signature… everything looks right. The email address is right, and there’s a CC to your agent. They might even include personal or confidential personal information you previously provided.

So how do you know something is off?

There's been a change or mistake.

It’s very common for scammers to note a mistake or error in the previous account number sent and provide a new one.

The email is marked URGENT.

The email might be marked with a subject of URGENT or contain a strict deadline in order to incite panic and cause you to act without thinking.

Some tiny detail is off.

Everything might LOOK perfect at first glance, but there’s always some little detail off, even if it’s just one letter in an email address.

7 Ways to PREVENT Wire Fraud

Even the most diligent can overlook small details! Here are some surefire ways to protect yourself against wire fraud.

  • Talk to your agent or attorney (preferably in person) for a detailed walk through the closing process. Do not discuss this over email, as any information you send could end up in the hands of a hacker.
  • Write down all contact information.
  • Beware of last-minute or urgent changes. When in doubt, call.
  • Call to confirm. Even if there have not been any changes, it doesn’t hurt to double-check and confirm before you send anything.
  • Never email any financial or personal information.
  • Be wary of any personal or financial information sent to you over email. Most lenders or attorneys should have a secure or encrypted system for exchanging such information.
  • Beware of any incoming phone calls asking you to confirm your personal information.

Buying or Selling in Albuquerque?

Are you thinking of buying or selling a home in the Albuquerque area? Let the Feils help! Not only will we help you navigate the real estate process from start to finish, we'll also ensure your personal information is always safe and confidential so you don't find yourself the victim of a ruthless crime like wire fraud. Contact us today to learn more, to ask any questions, or to get started buying or selling!

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