Real estate wire fraud is on the rise, making it one of the real estate industry's top concerns for 2017. While experts can try to trace where and how the fraud occurred, there is no guarantee that the homebuyer will ever reclaim that money. The good news is, with these tips, you can help protect yourself.
1. Be Mindful of Links and Attachments - Phishing emails are a common way hackers attempt to acquire login information as well as some of your personal information. It's best practice to be wary of links found in emails; even links received from emails that seem "normal". Remember that hackers can make it appear like the email is from someone else. Last minute wire transfer emails can also be a red flag. A simple yet effective way to avoid this can be through making a quick phone call to your title company before and after initiating any wire transfer.
2. Telephone Verification - When making a wire transfer, it is always a good idea to call the recipient and verify that the wiring instructions you have are correct. It is also a good idea to save the phone number of the title company after the first time you are in contact with them - don't just call the phone number in an email! Some cyber criminals will send fake emails embedded with a fake phone number in order to provide different instructions on how to complete the transaction.
3. Don't be Afraid to Ask Questions - For most home buyers and sellers, this will be one of the biggest transactions you will ever make. It's totally reasonable to want to understand why things are, the way they are. If you are uncomfortable with something or simply want to know more, know that you have the right to ask questions. Make sure you are working with a Realtor and title company that you trust to help clarify things along the way.
4. Use a Reputable Title Company - A title company is the third party that makes sure the title piece of a real estate transaction is legitimate. These title companies will often have escrow accounts that contain the funds that are necessary in order to close on a home. If you do not yet have a title company that you trust, we'd be happy to put you in touch with a great title team.
5. Work with a Realtor You Trust - Take your time choosing a great Realtor - check online reviews, ask friends and co-workers for referrals and do any other research you need. While it might seem tedious upfront, it will make your home buying or selling experience more successful and less stressful, including when it comes time to pick the title company.
While buying or selling a home can be stressful, it ultimately should be a time of celebration. Stay mindful and cautious throughout your real estate experience and it will be just that!
Blog written by: Matt Imhoff