Wire fraud is a federal crime where someone tries to defraud another individual or entity of their money or property through electronic communications. Electronic communications can include phone, fax, email, text or even social media messaging.
If you are thinking of buying a home, you need to be aware of wire fraud and protect yourself. According to the FBI, there were more than 9,600 victims in the real estate/rental sector with losses of over $56 million in 2017.
Hackers find a way to mimic a title company or realtor’s email account, track upcoming home purchases and assume the identity of the person handling the transaction. Unsuspecting home buyers may not know for days or even weeks that they’ve sent the settlement funds to the criminal bank account and not the title or escrow company’s account.
So how do you protect yourself?
- Have a trusted contact to confirm details. Do not call the number in the email.
- Do not send any money without verifying wiring instructions from your title company, settlement and/or closing agent.
- Be wary of any changes to instructions. Watch for red flags in any emails, paying attention to inconsistencies in email addresses or URLs in web links.
- Try not to use free email accounts such as Gmail or Hotmail. They have a higher risk of being hacked by criminals.
Being aware of wire fraud is the first step in protecting yourself. Make sure you are working with a trusted home loan advisor that is educating you on the threats of wire fraud and has clear communication regarding any wiring information.
Speak with a GO Mortgage Home Loan Advisor today.