When closing day finally rolls around, you are likely to feel a mixture of nervous anticipation and gratifying relief. However, don’t relax too much- not until the deal is officially finished.
Your real estate agent may email you instructions to wire your closing funds to a specific account, but what happens if the payment leaves your bank account but never ends up where it’s supposed to? Unfortunately, cybercriminals are very vigilant to watch out for closing processes, with real estate agents being a hot target.
Protect your money and avoid wire fraud with these tips from True Concept Title.
What is Wire Fraud?
Hackers on the hunt for a closing procedure to take advantage of will break into an agent’s email, track conversations between clients and agents, and ultimately send emails instructing buyers to wire money or provide personal information.
The information you provide to your “agent” will actually facilitate a cybercriminal stealing your money, bank account numbers, credit card information, and identity; This is known as wire fraud.
Wire fraud is any type of fraud that occurs over the phone or through electronic devices. Recent surges in security breaches and attacks prove it is more important than ever to protect your personal information.
More Types of Crime > Protect Against Home-Title Theft
How to Protect Yourself from Wire Fraud
Image spending many years saving money every month to eventually purchase a new home. After a long hunt, you find the perfect property and your offer is accepted, only to have a criminal steal your money. Save yourself from this horrid offense with these tips:
- Don’t Share Info Over Email or Text
All of those involved in a closing transaction should pass along personal information either in person or over a secure phone call with people whose identities can be confirmed. Your agent’s “assistant” who you have never heard of is probably not their actual assistant. Also, any emails demanding money, both aggressive and composed, are big red flags.
- Verify Before Clicking Send
Before wiring any money, phone your title agent, real estate broker, lender, or lawyer from the number on their website to ensure you are following the correct instructions. Confirm the following pieces of information:
- ABA routing number
- SWIFT code
- Credit account number
- Exclude Your Real Estate Agent
With wire fraud scenarios playing out across the globe at an alarming rate, more and more real estate agents are requesting that their clients sign wire fraud notices, completely removing them from the wire-funding process. In this situation, only lenders, lawyers, and title agents are involved with the wiring instructions. With this safety measure, homebuyers are less likely to be scammed into following instructions their agent didn’t actually share.
- Do it Face-to-Face
If you have any uneasiness about the circumstances, listen to your gut and do the transfer of funds in person. Using a cashier’s check might require a bit more effort, but it can save you thousands of dollars (and a blow to your morale)!
- Slow Down
Scam artists work hard to coax buyers into a false sense of security so that they don’t take time to scrutinize and truly process requests. Be sure to triple-check the sender’s email address for anything out of the ordinary, such as “I’s” replaced with “l’s. One of those letters was a lowercase “L”, could you tell the difference?
Always verify over the phone if something feels off. When responding, use “forward” instead of “reply” and enter a reliable email to lower your chances of replying to a cybercriminal.
Steer Clear of Fraud with True Concept Title
If you think you have been a victim of wire fraud, there are actionable steps you must take immediately to prevent further damage. Reporting a wire fraud incident within 72 hours of authorizing the transfer provides you with the best possibility of recovering your funds. Call your closing agent, banks, local law enforcement, and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center; and be sure to secure your accounts and devices as well.
It’s distressing to know that countless people are targeted and taken advantage of by cybercriminals, but by following True Concept Title’s tips, you can avoid becoming a victim. With our team of trustworthy and reliable title and escrow experts, you can count on a smooth close.
In the process of buying a new home? Protect your investment with title insurance. We’ll remove the burden of home-buying stress! Call True Concept Title at 866-651-6224.