The internet has simplified our lives and changed the way we get things done in ways that people even 20 years ago couldn’t fathom. We can deposit checks, get medical care, close on a mortgage and pay our bills with just a few clicks. We’re not talking about things we use only occasionally – these technological processes that have become commonplace and engrained in our daily lives and it’s easy to forget just how much we rely on the internet and how much we share about ourselves while online.
With all the good that comes with technology, the bad is always right around the corner. Hackers, fraudsters, and thieves swarm the internet in droves looking for any vulnerability to steal someone’s identity and make money off their efforts. They are relentless and it’s not hard to see why: In 2021, the FBI reported nearly 7 billion dollars in potential losses due to internet based crime in their latest report. In other words, it works.
Real estate activity is not immune to fraud. In fact, the same report cited above ranks real estate fraud 5th in overall losses. In our latest blog, we list the steps you can take during a real estate transaction that can save you from undo loss or harm.
Create Different Passwords
You will use multiple online tools during a real estate transaction, including portals to upload documents, sign paperwork, collect banking information, etc. You should always use different passwords to prevent real estate fraud and make it harder for cybercriminals to gain access.
Confirm Contact Information
It is good practice to confirm that all professionals are licensed and in good standing with their respective industry authorities. Collect their email and phone numbers and save them. Once you start getting correspondence, always confirm the sender against the information you’ve confirmed. If someone contacts you from a different number or email, be suspicious. Reach out to your trusted contacts and confirm their involvement in your transaction.
Watch Out for ‘Buzzwords’
Lenders and real estate professionals have a fairly standardized way of communicating and will rarely use language that create unnecessary urgency. Words like ‘immediately’, ‘rush’, or ‘warning’ are hardly used in legitimate correspondence. These words are telltale signs of real estate fraud are meant to illicit emotion and can get people to act without thought.
Be particularly careful when it comes to wire transfers, requests for funds or account access. In almost every situation, the title company is the only party that will provide wire transfer requests. Any other requests for money should be confirmed through your trusted contacts.
In short, be hyper vigilant as you move through your real estate transaction to prevent real estate fraud. Mishandling sensitive information, responding to a spoofed or phishing email, or processing a wire transfer that isn’t legitimate can come at a significant cost. When it comes to cybercrime, by the time anyone suspects wrongdoing, the damage is already done.
Principle Abstract and Settlement Services has years of experience ensuring the privacy and security of our client’s information. Through secure file sharing tools and proper communication, we strive to ensure our clients feel confident and secure at each phase of the transaction. When it comes to cybersecurity, there is no such thing as overcommunication. If you suspect something is wrong, reach out immediately and we will investigate.
Ready to get started on a real estate transaction? Give our office a call and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.