If you've been reading the news lately, fraudsters and hackers are everywhere! They're hijacking business and personal computers across the globe demanding a ransom so you can gain access back to your computer. They're sending fake emails asking you to open a Word document, Dropbox link, or Google Drive link that could potentially scrape your personal information to be used for identity theft. They're emailing you "from" UPS and FedEx claiming an urgent, overnight package can't be delivered. It's all a game of phishing, and they are getting more sophisticated with personalization, making the emails look legit. For people who are buying or selling a home, this can be especially risky.
Phishing is not a hobby - it's a career. Do not let criminals get their hooks into you or your account.
If you need to send money to your closing attorney to complete the transaction of buying or selling your property, the Closing attorney will provide wiring instructions to their trust account. These instructions should be provided via hand or overnight delivery, landline fax, or by secure email. If at any time you are asked to WIRE money to ANYONE, confirm with your real estate agent or attorney what number you should call to VERBALLY confirm wiring instructions.
It's absolutely imperative that you do not trust an email you received that looks like it is from your agent or closing attorney. Many times these cyber-criminals are changing one letter in an email address to make it look like the email is coming from someone you know and trust. NEVER trust the phone number on the email you received. Use a phone number you've previously used to verbally confirm where to send a wire by contacting your Agent or Closing Attorney.
Remember, text messages are not secure methods to transmit financial information. Unless you are responding to a verified secure email, do not put your financial information into an email. Do not use email links to get to websites.
If you find you have been hooked, you should immediately notify your bank's wire fraud department and report any fraudulent activity to the Federal Bureau of Investigations through its internet crime complaint center.
Published by Susan R. Benoit on May 25, 2017