Wire fraud is a growing concern for home buyers, particularly those purchasing a new home. Unfortunately, wire fraud is becoming increasingly common in the real estate industry and can result in devastating financial losses for home buyers.
What is wire fraud?
Wire fraud is a type of scam that involves criminals intercepting wire transfers and redirecting the funds to their own accounts. In the context of real estate, wire fraud occurs when hackers gain access to the email accounts of real estate agents, lenders, or title companies involved in a transaction. The hackers then send fraudulent wire transfer instructions to the buyer, instructing them to transfer their down payment or closing costs to a fraudulent account.
How can you protect yourself from wire fraud when purchasing a new home?
Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself from wire fraud when purchasing a new home:
- Verify wire transfer instructions in person or by phone: If you receive wire transfer instructions via email, do not rely solely on the email. Instead, call the sender to verify the instructions and confirm the account information in person.
- Avoid sending sensitive information via email: Do not send sensitive information, such as your bank account information or social security number, via email. Instead, use secure portals or fax to send sensitive information.
- Be cautious of unexpected emails or changes to wire transfer instructions: If you receive an unexpected email or any changes to wire transfer instructions, verify the authenticity of the email or instructions with the sender before proceeding with any wire transfer.
- Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication: Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication for your email and online accounts to prevent hackers from accessing your accounts.
- Work with reputable professionals: Choose to work with reputable professionals, such as real estate agents, lenders, and title companies, who prioritize cybersecurity and have protocols in place to prevent wire fraud.
In summary, wire fraud is a real threat when purchasing a new home. However, by following these tips and staying vigilant, you can protect yourself and ensure a safe and secure transaction. If you have any concerns or suspicions of wire fraud, contact your real estate agent or the appropriate authorities immediately.