Wire fraud. It’s a very real and growing concern in the Real Estate Industry. Despite growing efforts to decrease the amount of Wire Fraud, the number of Home Buyers who have fallen victim to it, has increased in the last 3 years. Here are a few Red Flags, DO’S and DONT’S to assure that you do not fall victim.
RED FLAGS – WIRE FRAUD
- If you receive an email from Escrow, your Buyer’s Agent or Selling Agent, call your Agent or your Escrow Officer immediately. The senders email could have been hacked. Also note, wire instructions will never change.
- Wire instructions that come in a PDF file or un-encrypted message. This will never happen. All emails sent to you by the Escrow company will be encrypted and require your specific login.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM WIRE FRAUD
- You will receive written wire instructions, given to you when you go in to sign your final documentation, and probably encrypted wire instructions directly from the Escrow company via email.. DO follow these instructions to wire your funds a day or two prior to closing. Feel free to verify these exact instructions with the escrow company, over the phone if you are feeling anxious about wiring the funds. Better safe than sorry!
- If possible, depending on the amount of the transaction, it is preferred to use a cashier’s check.
- CALL (don’t email) your Agent or Escrow company to verify the amount that needs to be wired and update them when the the wire has been complete
- CALL (don’t email) your Agent immediately if you receive an email that:
- States your wire instructions have changed. (This doesn’t happen!)
- Communicates you are ready to close early and it’s time to wire your funds
- DON’T Hastily run to the bank and wire your funds upon email receipt that funds need to get transferred. This is generally what happens when buyers fall victim.
- DON’T Follow the direction of anyone besides Escrow when it comes to the transfer/wire of your final funds
- DON’T Get too busy and think that it couldn’t happen to you. It could happen to anybody.
Fortunately I’ve never had any clients fall victim to wire fraud, and I intend to keep it that way. Stay vigilant and know that myself or the Escrow company are never too busy to take your phone call.