The threat of wire fraud is a real problem facing buyers and sellers. When wiring money for your real estate transaction, it is imperative you ensure the requesting party is authentic. It is possible for hackers to infiltrate the email account(s) of buyers and/or sellers during a home sale. They can track who requests and receives funds for the transaction and can reach out to either party with false wiring instructions. Victims then unknowingly transfer their closing money to an unknown account with no hopes of it being returned.
To avoid scams like this, we advise clients to do the following:
Ask Your Agent, Attorney and Title Company How They Communicate with Clients at the Beginning of the Transaction - Typically, the buyer and seller’s parties will introduce all persons involved in the transaction early on to avoid personal information falling into unauthorized hands. If you receive an email from someone you don’t recognize, verify their identity by asking your agent and attorney.
Do Not Send Wiring Information or Any Sensitive Transfer Details via Email – When wiring money, confirm instructions over the phone before and after sending the wire. Also, make sure the number you are calling is verified to ensure the point of contact is legitimate. DO NOT USE THE PHONE NUMBER PROVIDED WITH THE WIRE REQUEST. It is best to find the requesting party’s contact number from an independent source.
Do Not Open Any Suspicious Emails - If an email looks suspicious or IS from an unverified source, do not open it, click links, or download any attachments. If you receive any emails regarding your wire transfer, they should be encrypted. Hackers have become very savvy and will copy the letterhead of offices you may be working with. If something seems off, don’t be afraid to ask.
Close communication and carefully followed procedure are key to avoid scams like wire fraud. Talk to a Barker Group agent for more advice on how we execute a safe and successful home transaction. Have more questions about wire fraud or other real estate scams? Feel free to contact us anytime with any concerns.