If you are about to embark on the wonderful journey of home buying or selling this weeks topic is for YOU!
There are a few times during the transaction that someone may decide it's easier to wire their funds to the title company or that the seller would like their proceeds wired directly into their account. This makes complete sense! After all its 2019 and who wants to take a check to the bank when the money can be swiftly sent to its destination? No one. Although, its best to use extreme caution. In the past few years we have seen a rise in wire fraud. So let's discuss what wire fraud is, shall we?
The basic definition of wire fraud given to us by the almighty Google is “financial fraud involving the use of telecommunications or information technology.”
Due to the large dollar amounts that are transferred for a real estate sale the transaction becomes an easy target. Essential what happens is a hacker finds key words in your email and the title companies once they’ve hacked into your accounts. They then start to mirror the emails but change the wiring account information. In a matter of minutes all of your money to purchase a home can be in another country in a hackers account. There is no recourse to get your money back. This is why it's imperative that you take the time to follow some very important steps given to you by your bank, the title company and your REALTOR to ensure that all of the funds end up where they are supposed to.
Protect Yourself With These 4 Helpful Tips to Avoid Wire Fraud:
- Wire and other disbursement instructions received by email should be confirmed over the phone with someone you know at the title company. DO NOT use the telephone number at the bottom of the email with the information you are trying to confirm.
- Wiring instructions rarely change! Be skeptical of any change in wiring instructions during your transaction.
- Confirm the account to which you are wiring is in the name of the party entitled to the funds
- Watch out for phishing emails with embedded links, even if they appear to come from a trusted source like your title company
According to American Land Title Association “Even though hackers are attacking unsuspecting homebuyers more frequently, all hope is not lost. There is still plenty of action the real estate world can take in order to protect this industry from escalating BEC and social engineering attacks. You may not be able to educate and train each homebuyer extensively, but you can be proactive and teach them to stay on the offensive. Continue to educate your employees—the more they know, the more knowledge they can pass on. Obtain the services of a company focused on protecting title companies and homebuyers from social engineering and email hackers.
Simple policies to follow:
- Implement a password policy and then back it up
- Use dual-factor authentication for password updates
- Use your email client’s audit logging features so you can track any data breaches which do occur
- Employ the services of a company which can monitor the dark web and alert you if your employees’ identities or credentials are stolen
- Use firewalls, anti-malware software, phishing detection and a secure internet gateway.
These easy-to-implement and relatively inexpensive steps will allow you to protect your company even when the ball is in the homebuyers’ court. By taking the initiative and arming yourself with the proper knowledge and business tools, the hackers’ ever-evolving schemes will become a thing of the past, while your brain and business can rest easy.”
Are you feeling all safe, warm and fuzzy now? I know it can be stressful. Talk to your Realtor about what route is best for your situation and know that parties in the transaction are all working with you to ensure a smooth process.
If you have any further questions or concerns please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org