How to Be Cautious and Protect yourself from Real Estate Fraud

Protecting your sensitive financial information from hackers

Real Estate Involves Sensitive Information: Learn how to secure your Real Estate Transactions

There is so much business conducted online and via email these days. It is more and more important that you be very selective about those you do business with. Your REALTOR, your mortgage company and loan officer, and the Attorney who will handle your settlement in Delaware are all part of a team that will work to protect you and your information.

As REALTORS®, we are very aware of the risk facing us all today from cybercrime. Articles alerting us to this increase in criminal activity focused on the real estate industry are appearing regularly in industry publications. Wire fraud has become one of the most common scams consumers are facing during a real estate transactions. Because we know that our clients are sharing extremely sensitive information with us and our partners, we choose those we do business with very carefully. We encourage our clients not to just go online and pick a lender; we practically insist that they only deal with a local reputable lender that we know and trust.

Here are some specific steps we take at Active Adults Realty.

  • From the start of any transaction, we communicate and educate. We keep all who are involved up to speed on fraud “red flags,” and make sure everyone implements secure email practices.
  • Tell our clients and customers at the start of any transaction to verify wiring instructions by calling the intended recipient of wired funds immediately prior to sending the funds.
  • Use only independently verified contact information.

We asked Heidi Gilmore, Real Estate Attorney with Baird, Mandalas, Brockstedt, for her advice and she replied

That is why we only mail wire instructions to clients or send by secure email.  This email fraud has been active for several years now so the industry has had a lot of time to get used to being protective of wire fraud.  Most commonly, the emails are hacked accounts.  All parties in the transaction have to be aware of the security protections to bank account information and the need for secure procedures.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

What steps can you take to help protect your own sensitive financial information during a transaction? Here are some useful tips to protect yourself from real estate fraud:

  • If you receive an email asking you for information like your social security number, banking or financial information, stop and call the person directly before you do anything.
  • Never share personal and financial information with someone over the phone unless you can absolutely verify they are who they say.
  • Be warry of spoofed email addresses. Free email accounts such as gmail and yahoo, etc, can be easily spoofed by hackers to commit wire fraud. Always call and verify.
  • Avoid using free or unsecured WiFi, especially when handling banking or other sensitive info online.
  • Always use strong passwords, and change them frequently.

I make it a rule to never click on a link in an email unless I am absolutely positive that it is not a scam. Remain paranoid, there are so many scams on a daily basis. A few years ago, the director of the FBI almost got taken by an email banking scam. If it can happen to him, it can happen to you.

For more on what is happening with wire fraud when it comes to real estate and how to protect yourself, check out this great article here.

In a real estate transaction, you are not only sharing sensitive info but making big decisions. Relocating and buying a home is a major life decision and the Active Adults Realty team is prepared to help you as well as ensure your transactions remain safe and secure. Download our FREE Home Buyer’s Guide HERE to get you started on the road to being more informed.