We’re a little early, but Placer Title Company is committed to doing all we can to get the word out: October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This topic – which, yes, includes the fight against wire fraud – is especially important in real estate and is one we talk about frequently in our industry.
As you should know, cyber criminals are always trying to get people to fall for scams or share personal and financial information. One way they do this is through phishing, which is essentially an email coming from what seems to be a reputable company to induce a person to click a link or follow new instructions. Be aware and don’t do either.
Your security should be your utmost priority, especially on the internet, as these scams can come in many different forms. Previous blogs have focused on making sure your customers are aware of wire fraud, which continues to be necessary. Still, today we wanted to focus specifically on scams targeting our realtor friends. After all, making sure you’re aware of what types of phishing scams are out there will help identify them in the future. You’re probably aware of at least some of these, but like we always tell our customers, it’s always a good time to be reminded about the need to #BeCyberSmart. Below are 3 types of scams common to our industry and tips for how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
Scam 1: An email with instructions to sell a property without permission from the owner
A common theme with phishing scammers is emailing real estate professionals to list properties not authorized to sell. These emails usually don’t ask for personal information but include a link intended to be clicked on. The links are designed to hack your computer system and find confidential information, so make sure you double-check every email with a link attached.
Scam 2: Out of the blue contact from a ‘client’ asking to change the lockbox code on their property
Lockboxes make it easier agents to show prospective buyers a property. These types of scams are becoming all too convincing. It is in your best interest to contact your client and verify if the email was indeed theirs. Likewise, these scams are common over text messaging, so be wary and do not send information back if you are unfamiliar with a phone number.
Scam 3: Directions to reset pin numbers by email or text message
Emails pretending to be your bank are becoming more and more frequent on the internet. It was easy to spot these phishing emails in previous years as they were littered with misspelled words and unprofessional language. Now, however, scammers have become more sophisticated in their approaches to these emails.
While it may be difficult to see that these are scams, check the email from which these messages were sent. It is so important to double-check the email sender’s address since they are usually suspicious looking. Likewise, a bank would never ask you to reset your PIN over an email or text message.
Overall, if there’s one thing to take away from this advice, double-check who is sending you emails asking for personal information. Like we always say in any wire fraud warning, it’s essential to be on the lookout and stay vigilant in the cybercrime fight. Remember, if something seems off, it’s always worth verifying.