Be Aware, Electronic Scams Have Hit the Real Estate Industry
When one hears of electronic scams, they might envision scammers that target individuals through their credit cards or personal data. Unfortunately, scammers are not only targeting personal information of individuals anymore, but are also targeting companies in an attempt to elicit important transaction data. In recent months, electronic scams have become more prevalent in our industry. Agents, lenders, clients, and escrow officers all need to be vigilant and pay close attention to all texts, phone calls, and e-mails that they receive when a deal is near closing.
Scammers have discovered that if they can just fool one person in a transaction of this magnitude, the pay day could be tremendous. Whether it’s payment funds, earnest money, down payments, or seller proceeds, scammers are active. How do they do it? Through a method referred to as “phishing”. “Phishing” is the act of posing as a trustworthy person or company in an attempt to induce individuals to reveal personal and sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, usernames, or details to a transaction. Scammers can create a falsified e-mail address with an uncanny resemblance to an e-mail address of a trustworthy party in the transaction. With this new e-mail address, they will often request that funds be wired to a falsified account. They can also use phony texts and phone calls to direct a party to make “correct” wiring instructions. With wiring instructions and transactions so common in the Real Estate industry, it makes our industry one of the most common and lucrative targets.
Thankfully, to our knowledge, nobody at ELEETE Real Estate has fallen for these tricks today. As our lives become more technologically dependent though, it is important to keep the scammer’s tactics in mind through all online transactions we come across in our day-to-day lives.
Here are some steps that you can take to ensure that you are safe from online scammers in all aspects of your life.
🚩The red flags that indicate that the e-mail may be fraudulent:
- Check e-mail addresses to see if it is a different e-mail address than what was previously used from the trusted party.
- Read the content to see if there are grammatical errors or if there is uncommon wording used.
- Be mindful of timing. It is often around 1 week prior to the scheduled closing date
- Visually inspect for blurry formatting or images
In the end, the best practice is for you to initiate the call to the designated escrow or banking official to ensure you are calling the actual institution involved in closing your purchase or sale.