Wire fraud is on the rise and cyber attackers are getting clever on their techniques to steal money. According to the FBI, in 2017, nearly 1 billion dollars was diverted or attempted to be diverted from real estate transactions to criminally controlled entities. You can protect yourself in a real estate transaction by following these steps:
DO NOT TRUST EMAILS CONTAINING WIRE INSTRUCTIONS
* If you receive an email containing wire transfer instructions, immediately call your escrow officer to ensure the validity of the instructions.
DO NOT TRUST EMAILS SEEKING PERSONAL/FINANCIAL INFORMATION
* If you receive an email requesting personal/financial information or asking you to download, click on a link, send, and/or do anything that may seem unusual to you, call your escrow officer immediately prior to acting on the suspicious email to verify the validity of the email.
TRUST YOUR SOURCE OF INFORMATION
* Never direct, accept or allow anyone in the transaction to consent to receiving transfer instructions without a direct personal telephone call to the individual allegedly providing the instructions.
* It is imperative that this call be made to a number obtained in person from the individual or through other reliable means, not from a number provided in the email or the wiring instructions.
If you have been a victim of wire fraud or suspect suspicious activity follow these steps:
1. Contact the financial institution wiring the funds with instructions to stop or rescind the transfer and place a freeze on remaining funds.
2. Contact your local FBI field office: AZ (623) 466-1999. To lookup your local FBI field office, go to https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices.
3. File a complaint on the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
4. Notify all other parties to the transaction that may have been exposed to the attack. Real estate agents should contact their broker.
5. Change all usernames and passwords associated with any account that you believe to have been compromised.
My clients receive a high level of communication throughout the transaction. This is something that everyone should take very seriously. Good luck out there and be safe!