CHICAGO – Jan. 23, 2018 – Scammers increasingly target real estate transactions, so the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) teamed up with the FBI and brokerage Realty Executives International to help the industry identify wire fraud schemes and help clients.
A particular cause for concern: Hackers who send fake emails with bogus wiring instructions to homebuyers on the cusp of closing on a property. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been stolen so far from buyers who fall prey to these scams.
“We believe the way to stop these scammers in their tracks is by educating clients to identify, avoid, and report potential fraud,” says Alysia Heun, vice president of franchise services at Realty Executives. “By raising awareness in the real estate industry on how these scams are being carried out, we can create a united front fighting against and working to shut down this devastating trend.”
Three ways to help protect buyers from scammers
- Pay attention to how wire instructions are sent. It’s best to only accept instructions that are secure and encrypted.
- Before buyers wire funds to an individual or company, urge them to call to verify the wire instructions independently with the title company or closing agent.
- Be on the lookout for changes. Tell clients that wire instructions rarely change, and if they receive an email saying that any wiring instructions have changed, urge them to confirm the validity with the real estate agent or title company.
“The best defense against this type of scam is having multiple checkpoints with your title company and agent to ensure everything you are being instructed to do is legit – and phone is best. Just make sure you’re talking to the right person,” Realty Executives urges in a blog post.
Wire fraud webinar
Representatives from NAR, the FBI and Realty Executives International are hosting a webinar “Wire Fraud: Educating Clients and Avoiding Scams in Real Estate,” from 12-1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Click here to sign up.
Source: “Three Steps to Preventing Wire Fraud,” Realty Executives (Jan. 16, 2018)
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