Real Estate Tip of the Week: Avoiding Wire Fraud

In real estate, you’ve probably heard of the alarming act of wire fraud. While it is a very real thing – there are important steps that you can take to prevent this from happening to you and your transaction.

First: What is Wire Fraud?

One of the final stages of a home purchase includes the homebuyer wiring money for their closing – the homebuyer would receive a legitimate email from their attorney, title company, or mortgage company with details on how and where to wire the money.

Unfortunately, wire fraud involves a cybercriminal hacking into the email system with fraudulent wire-transfer instructions. Usually, it is only after the wire transfer has been completed, that anyone fully realizes that a crime has taken place.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, wire fraud is one of the fastest growing cybercrimes in the U.S – about 11,300 people were victims of wire fraud in real estate transactions in 2018, with losses over $150 million.

Second: What Can You Do?

Be wary of last-minute changes – homebuyers and sellers are eager to finalize the transaction, and the cybercriminal knows that. If you receive a notification just before closing the initiates a change in wire instructions, do not panic and send money. Here’s what to do instead:

  • Do not rely on an email, a text, or a letter – even if it looks legitimate. Confirm wire instructions verbally, or in person. This might mean calling up your attorney, title company, or real estate agent.
  • When calling to confirm, be sure to use the numbers you received and verified at the beginning of the loan process. Do not try and call the number listed on this new email, text, or letter with an updated wire instruction change.
  • Do not click on any link within the email that you find suspicious.
  • Ask your bank to confirm the name on the receiving account before sending a wire.
  • After confirming your wire instructions are legitimate, verify with your title company that they’ve received your wire 4 hours after the transfer

For more information on how you can prevent wire fraud, check out the NAR’s tips here.

Alliance Title & Escrow believes in preventing wire fraud – call your local office to find out more on what we’re doing to combat wire fraud.

As always – for more real estate tips, be sure to check out Alliance’s Blog.

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