Know the red flags to protect yourself from scams, spams, and spoofs which may be targeted towards you as you work with a real estate agent.
In real estate, we are dependent on our cell phones, our email, our website, and our social media—all tools we use to communicate with you, our clients and potential clients. With all the spam, scams and spoofs, this usual communication is becoming more and more difficult. What are we to do?
Detecting the Genuine Real Estate Communication
Don’t hang up, leave a message
If an agent at Active Adults Realty reaches out to you, he or she will leave a voicemail explaining the reason for the call. You may have forgotten that you sent in an inquiry from our website or another online real estate site. If we are calling you it is because you asked for information and we are responding to see how we can be of help.
We never cold call to solicit your real estate business
Many people no longer answer their phones. I understand. Frankly, if my cell phone doesn’t show a name or business which is familiar, I don’t answer my cell phone. I always look to see if the person left a voicemail message and call back immediately if the call is not one of the “spam, scam, or spoof calls.”
Cell phones compromised
Recently, Audrey, my Team Coordinator and a key member of my staff, had her phone number compromised. Someone called her number and said she had called them, and they were calling her back. Audrey had not called this person and apologized. This happened again and again. Audrey now has a message on her phone telling callers “if you received a call from this number, but I did not leave a message, it was not me that called.”
Scammers are using her number to make Robo Calls to people in her local area code. The scammers spoof local numbers because people are more likely to answer calls from a local number. Verizon says there is nothing that can be done about it (How to Stop Telemarketers from Spoofing your Number). THERE NEEDS TO BE LEGISLATION TO DEAL WITH SPOOFING AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL.
We all need to become activists in our own defense. The same people who are doing this to us, are doing it to you. The scammers are using our phone numbers or our emails to take advantage of others. The scammers are the people tricking the elderly, or the naïve, to send them money.
An email has been sent in my name to my agents more than once saying something like –
“Are you available?” or “Are you free to run a quick task?”
Sounds like things I might ask one of my agents. If they respond, yes, they are then asked to do a favor. This is the one where they are asked to go buy gift cards.
Here is the text of one example which happened in December and was sent to several of our agents. The text appeared to come from my husband and partner, Bill Bell.
10 pieces of $100/each iTunes gift card note that $100×10 qty ($1000)
of iTunes Gift Card is needed and you should gently scratch-off silver lining
at the back of the pin codes. Kindly send a clear picture of the pin codes to 424-261-8158.
We sent this to all our staff and agents:
Never, never, never take any scam like this seriously. We would never ask you to do something like this in an email! And, if you look at the actual email address, you will see that it is not one of our email addresses.
Stay Safe, Stay Informed
I found this news story online which made me realize just how prevalent this scam is and how long it has been happening. https://abc7chicago.com/finance/gift-card-scam-uses-bosses-email-addresses-when-phishing/4556080/
Tell your Congresspeople and Representatives we are tired of spam, scams, and spoofs. What are they doing to protect us from these crooks? I am sending a copy of this article to Tom Carper, Chris Coons in Congress, and Lisa Blunt Rochester in the House.
So again, please leave a voicemail if one of us at Active Adults Realty does not answer our cell phones. It’s not because we are ignoring you, we could be on the office phone with clients or just indisposed. And, we will do the same, if we call you. Once your phone number is in our contacts, we all do everything we can to answer your call.