As we approach the holidays, it’s important that we all stay alert to the prevalence of wire fraud. For the past several years, wire fraud in real estate transactions has been one of the fastest growing cybercrimes. Long holiday weekends further enable wire fraud, as they give cybercriminals more time between their attempts to steal customer funds and the following business day when a company discovers the fraud. Before the long weekends coming up for Christmas and New Year’s, we’d like you to keep a lookout for the following:
- Attempts to change wiring instructions
- Emails trying to divert funds prior to closing
- Phishing emails asking you to change passwords or login credentials
- Bad grammar and spelling errors
- Emails that highly stress urgency
- Emails that emulate or falsify your company’s footers or logos
What To Do
If you happen to encounter any of these signs of fraud, there are several things you can do to protect yourself and your clientele.
- Do not open suspicious emails. If you do happen to open an email that looks suspicious, do not click on any links, open any attachments, or reply to the email.
- Locate a phone number for your lender through an independent source.
- Always double-check and verify the phone number provided in the email against a known number for the intended recipient of the wire.
- Call the lender at the vetted phone number to confirm whether the wire information on the questionable demand is genuinely correct.
- If you can’t quickly get a live representative with the lender, try and find a demand from that same lender in an older file (6+ months) and compare the two.
- Use your best common sense and intuition; don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Better safe than sorry!
It’s important to remember that you are truly the last line of defense in spotting wire fraud. Stay vigilant and take your time in conducting your transactions – ultimately, you could be very grateful you did! If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact us!