What Is Real Estate Wire Fraud?

Real estate wire fraud is one of America's fastest-growing cyber crimes, and sadly, it's often financially and emotionally devastating to its victims. But it's a crime we don't hear about that often—which is part of what has allowed it to spread so quickly. One of the best ways to prevent any type of fraud is to be aware and be on the lookout for suspicious activity, and wire fraud is no different.

The best way to prevent real estate wire fraud is to know what it is, how to spot it, and how to take action to prevent it. So, here's everything you need to know about wire fraud.

What Is Wire Fraud?

Simply put, real estate wire fraud occurs when a scammer (typically via email) impersonates someone you trust—like your lender, attorney, or agent—and instructs you to wire your closing funds to a false bank account.

If this sounds like something you'd never fall for, think again. Scammers often use incredibly detailed and accurate falsified email accounts, and are even able to hack into accounts or databases to obtain your personal information. This isn't going to be a poorly-worded email coming from a spammy-looking address—in fact, you might not even notice anything is off, especially if you're not on the lookout!

How Do You Spot Wire Fraud?

So, if this email looks so legitimate, how on earth are you supposed to know the difference between what's real and what's fake? Fortunately, there are a few telltale signs that something's off. Here's what to look for.

There's been a change

If your agent, lender, or attorney emails you about a change in the account number, recipient, or address, this should definitely raise a red flag.

There's an urgent demand

Scammers will often attach a scary deadline (send within 6 hours or lose the sale!) to their email to incite panic and decrease the likelihood of you double-checking the facts.

Some little detail is off

If you suspect something is off, take a closer look at the email—the header, the logo, the signature, and especially the email address. Likely, some little detail will be off, even if it's just one letter.

How Do You Prevent Wire Fraud?

If you suspect something, anything is off, call your agent, lender, or attorney right away. It never hurts to double check, even if everything is perfectly fine! Better safe than sorry, after all. Here are a few more tips for preventing wire fraud.

  • Never send personal information over email. Most lenders or attorneys will use a secure system or encrypted emails to exchange any kind of confidential information.
  • Be wary of any personal or confidential information sent to you over email. Your lender likely isn't going to just stick their account number in an unsecured email.
  • Talk to your lender, attorney, or agent about the exact closing process and transfer of funds. Preferably not over email!
  • Be wary of last-minute or urgent changes. Always call to confirm before taking any kind of action that differs from your previously discussed plans.
  • Call to confirm. Again, better safe than sorry!

Buying or Selling in Cable, WI?

Are you thinking of buying or selling a home in the Cable, WI area? Let McKinney Realty be your guide! Not only will we help you navigate the real estate process from start to finish, but we'll also ensure your personal information is always safe and confidential so you don't find yourself the victim of a ruthless crime like wire fraud. Contact us today to learn more, to ask any questions, or to get started buying or selling!

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