Warning Signs of Wire Fraud
As technology has grown more advanced, so have the methods for frauds, scams, and schemes. In fact, in the year of 2017, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center found that those duped by internet fraud lost over $1.4 billion. In the world of real estate, wire fraud in particular is a danger that you should be aware of. Knowing the signs and taking steps towards protecting yourself are the keys to avoid falling into this financial trap.
Here at CB Preferred, we want to ensure that our correspondence with our clients is transparent and secure. We'll never send you information asking for wire transfers of money to suspicious phone numbers or links. But, unfortunately, there are those out there who prey on homebuyers using wire frauds, and we want to provide our clients with all of the information they need to protect themselves.
Taking Steps Towards Protection
Although you might think it's easy to spot a wire fraud scam, they've grown to be quite convincing. Here's what you can do to protect yourself before it even becomes an issue.
There are two main types of wire fraud that you should know about: unwitting participation and account takeover. The former is perhaps the most common, and involves a scammer posing as a credible authority, duping someone into sending them money. The latter, account takeover, occurs when your personal information is stolen and used to access your funds.
Call for confirmation
If you receive an email requesting that you wire money to a number or email that you don't recognize or seems fishy, it's best to verify that information over the phone.
Get in touch with the lender or financial institution that you've been working with and double-check that they sent the correspondence and can confirm the number or email.
You've likely already gone over the next financial steps with your title company or lender, and it's highly unlikely that they've suddenly make a change over email. Further, if you haven't reviewed financial information yet, then it's even more unlikely that you'd be hearing about it over email for the first time. When it comes to major financial decisions, always be suspicious—even if the correspondence looks legitimate.
You can even sign up for account alerts through your bank so if they notice any suspicious activity, they can alert you to it ASAP.
When in doubt, it's better to be safe than sorry. Ask your bank to confirm the account that's being requested, call your agent for any advice you need, and call the title agency to make sure the funds were delivered to the correct place.
If not, then you'll want to act quickly. The sooner you can report a problem, the greater the chance that you can get your money back. If you need help figuring out who to report the issue to, just let us know.
Warning Signs of Wire Fraud
You know how to protect yourself, but what are some of the red flags that you should be on the lookout for?
Receive an email for a wire request that's riddled with typos? Or perhaps there's something off about the punctuation and spacing? Many wire fraud originate overseas, so English may not be the first language of the scammer. If any email contains misspelled words or odd grammar, it should be a huge red flag.
Oftentimes, wire fraud scammers use emails that very closely resemble those from a legitimate financial institution. Typically, these incorrect emails will come from Google or Yahoo domains, instead of the official domains of the company. Before replying, be sure to double-check that the email address is correct. If you have any suspicion, then contact the agency directly and ask if the address matches any that they have on record.
Rushed & reluctant communication
Got a sudden request for money after a change in the closing date? This is a common practice from scammers. By making you believe there's an urgent need to transfer money, they play on your emotions and bank on you complying without asking questions.
If you request a call before transferring the money, then they'll almost always decline. Refusing to communicate in any way that's not email is a major red flag.
Are you being asked to transfer more (or less) money than what was agreed upon? Are they asking you to wire over an amount for an unplanned cost? Strange requests like these are typically signs of fraud.
Protecting Our Clients
At CB Preferred, we'll never email you with last-minute changes to payments or request that you wire an inconsistent amount of money—we aim to be as transparent and open as possible about all of the financial steps to buying and selling. Above all, our number-one priority is protecting the investments of our clients, so if you have any questions whatsoever, we're always just a phone call away. If you receive any emails that are even slightly suspicious, please reach out to us immediately.
If you're concerned about the risk of wire fraud during your real estate transaction and would like to know what else to be on the lookout for, we'd love to send you further information, tips, and red flags.
Trust in the CB Preferred Team
Whether you're buying, selling, investing, or just dipping your toes in the waters of real estate, the CB Preferred Team is here to make sure you have all the resources you need to make a secure and informed decision. Feel free to browse some of our real estate resources, get to know a little more about our team, and reach out to us with any questions you might have.