Theft running off with a envelope.

Don't Let Your Dream Home Become a Nightmare

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In the United States, a growing number of homebuyers are falling victim to real estate cybercrimes. According to the FBI, victims in the U.S. lost more than $1.4 billion to cybercriminals in 2017 and nearly $1 billion was from real estate purchase transactions.

Scammers are hacking into real estate agent’s or title companies’ emails and tracking upcoming large settlement home closings. Since the cybercriminals now have access to these emails, they can target Homebuyers, days or weeks before the settlement, by posing as the title or escrow agent. The cybercriminals give fraudulent instructions to the buyer, asking them to wire funds needed to close on the sale. The funds are then deposited into the scammer's personal account, which is traditionally a foreign account outside of the U.S. jurisdiction.

Don’t let criminals wreak havoc on your home buying dreams. There are a number of red flags to look for to help you avoid becoming a potential victim. Here are some tips so you don’t fall victim to a scam:

  • In all situations, you should contact your title company or settlement agent and confirm wire instructions. Also, be certain you know the individual you’re calling and the number is correct.

  • Visit the title company or settlement agent’s website and verify the wire instructions you received match the information provided on their website. If there appears to be any differences, especially a phone number, call the company immediately.

  • Verify the wire instructions are correct and free of typos, grammatical errors, suspicious names of banks or anything that looks unusual. If you are closing on a home in Kansas, you should expect the wire transfer instructions be with a bank that is local or has a local office.

  • If you are giving wire instructions for a sale on your home, confirm the wire instructions are correct with your bank and the account information is accurate. You can confirm this information through your title company, settlement agent or attorney. 

  • If you are expecting to receive a large settlement on a house, be on alert. Notice red flags if you receive closing or wiring instructions via email, especially if they involve last minute changes. By phone or in person, verify the settlement with personnel and confirm instructions were sent from them and are correct. If you fall victim of fraud, call your local FBI field office immediately, and visit ic3.gov. 

Wire fraud is a growing threat in the United States.  Cybercriminals are becoming more creative on the way they attack consumers, but using these tips can help you from becoming their next victim.

Have any other tips or ideas on how to protect yourself against wire fraud? Please, share them here. 

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Categories: CapFed® News, Safety and Security, Your Home
Tags: Home Mortgages

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