Real Estate Agents and Wire Fraud: How Wire Fraud Affects Realtors and How They Can Help Stop It
Wire fraud is a crime in which someone defrauds another person of their money or property using interstate wire communication or information technology. The threat of wire fraud in real estate is a major source of concern among Realtors and homebuyers alike. These phishing scams affect both high- and low-profile property buyers and Realtors.
It’s important to know all you can about how to prevent Realtor wire fraud with your clients.
How Wire Fraud Affects Realtors
Most real estate wire fraud happens to clients and not to agents directly. In many reported cases of wire fraud, the scenario plays out like this:
- Hackers act as a person well-known to the victim.
- They send the real estate agent a phishing email to break into the agent’s account.
- The email asks them to click on a link that takes them to a phishing site where hackers collect their password.
- Immediately, the hackers have access to the agent’s email and search for pending sales.
- Then, they send an email to the buyer acting as an agent, title company, or lawyer and asking for a wire transfer.
- Instead of asking for the wire transfer directly, they may trick the buyer into going to a phishing site and entering their personal account information.
- Then, the hackers get away with the buyer’s money.
The real risk involved in wire fraud is that real estate agents could lose much more than their commission check for the botched or fraudulent transaction. Agents could also be sued for negligence or poor cybersecurity. Due to the large sums of money involved in most real estate wire fraud, the liabilities involved in the typical court case are usually very high. This can cause an agent to lose future business and pay huge sums of money in legal fees while the case is still in court.
How Realtors Can Stop Wire Fraud
To prevent wire fraud, you need to accept that you and clients can be attacked by hackers. This doesn’t mean you need to work in fear. Instead, you should handle all emails with care. Here are a few best practices to follow:
- Scrutinize any email that comes from an unverified source and contains information about a financial transaction.
- Don’t click on links or open any email attachment that comes from an unverified source.
- Be wary of emails or calls that request account verification.
- Change your passwords periodically.
- Avoid using the same email and password combinations on multiple websites.
- Update your anti-virus regularly to prevent malware attacks.
- Confirm all requests for financial transactions offline.
- Make a phone call and get a verbal confirmation before you make any wire transfers.
- Take your personal and financial information with you for a face-to-face meeting and get signed wire transfer instructions before you proceed.
Partnering With a Closing Professional You Can Trust
In preventing wire transfer fraud, one of the most important steps you can take is to partner with a team of experts focused on security for your real estate closings. At Title Partners of South Florida, our superior attention to detail and security keep our clients safe from real estate scams like these.
Wire transfers are still one of the most efficient and safest ways to fund real estate financial transactions. For more answers to your questions about how to avoid real estate wire fraud, give us a call at 954-566-6000 or contact us online today.