In the current age of “all things tech”, wire fraud has become popular within the real estate industry, primarily due to the number of transactions, as well as the lack of understanding in the closing process in general. Hackers are doing everything they can to gain access to sensitive information about these real estate transactions. One of the most common forms of fraud is when hackers send fake emails to home buyers on the cusp of closing on their home, and sending false wiring instructions. Thus resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars being stolen each year due to funds being sent to the wrong account.
How can this be avoided? Here are three sure-fire ways to avoid being hacked:
- Be very cognizant of how wire instructions are sent. The instructions need to be secure and encrypted, and not sent via email.
- Before wiring funds to a company or individual, it is encouraged to pick up the phone to verify the instructions with the real estate agent or title company.
- Pay close attention to any changes. Wiring instructions very rarely change. If something seems suspicious, it probably is. Call your agent or the title company to confirm.
What do I do if I am receiving phishing and spoof emails from my agent, lender, or closing firm? Chris Lusk, Chief Growth Officer for Dickason Law Group, suggests that if you are receiving emails from accounts that look like contacts in your address list, “…then you may have already been compromised, in which case its highly recommended that you not only change your password, but that you use a multi-step sign-on process.” For example, Gmail offers a Two-Step Verification process that uses your cell number to verify your login. If someone has gained access to your account, they will be unable to login without this second code. It is a vital step in the process for securing your email communications.
Chris also recommends “..contact your lender, agent, or closing firm and make them aware of the fake emails. It may help determine which account has been breached. The other option is to simply work with a firm who uses a fully encrypted platform, not just one or two forms that are supposedly encrypted. Also, ask if they have a guarantee that your money as well as your sensitive data will be protected. If not, find someone who does offer a guarantee.”
The safest way to prevent being scammed is to have a step-by-step check in process with your agent, closing attorney, and title company. Dickason Law Group prevents wire fraud a number of ways, but primarily with the usage of Qualia, a cloud-based settlement software that is the only SaaS of its kind to be SOC II certified.
In fact, Dickason Law Group is the only firm in the Atlanta market utilizing the security and safety features available in Qualia. DLG is so confident in the Qualia system that we offer a No Fraud Guarantee on your data and your funds.