Tips to Prevent Wire Fraud From Happening to You When Buying Your Next Home
Wire fraud is a type of fraud that is used in the form of telecommunications or the internet, including but not limited to; telephones, fax machines, email, social media, or SMS and text messaging. With the modernization of technology, fraudsters are adapting as well as expanding their formats. In the beginning, one would have to make hundreds of phone calls in attempt to scam an unknowing patron, while today, It’s as easy as the click of a button.
Wire Fraud and It’s Financial Impact
A recent report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reveals that the frequency and financial impact of cybercrime are continuing to increase at alarming rates, due in-part to fraudsters capitalizing on opportunities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Cyber criminals are actively taking advantage of the uncertainty caused by our current health crisis. Statistics supplied by FBI.gov:
“The 2020 Internet Crime Report includes information from 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime—an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019—and reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion.”
“Over 28,500 complaints related to COVID-19, with fraudsters targeting both businesses and individuals.”
“In the U.S. About 13,638 people were victims of wire fraud in the real estate and rental sector in 2020 (a 17% increase over 2019) with losses of more than $213 million”
Real Estate Transactions
Wire fraud is particularly prevalent in real estate deals due to the large sums of money being transferred, as well as the extensive use of email communication in the property sale industry. One of the costliest types of fraud occurs through a “business email compromise” scheme (BEC). This is when a criminal hacks into one’s email system and is able to manipulate and take advantage of high dollar deals. A hacker will monitor the sales process for the best time to strike, stealing personal information and important details along the way. Though companies go to extensive measures to make sure their databases are secure, with the advancements in security, it is only a matter of time before a fraudster can find their way in again. Bill Burding, the president of the American Land Title Association, encourages consumers to follow these tips to protect against wire fraud:
- Confirm all wiring instruction in person or by phone with a known number before transferring funds.
- Don’t email financial information. It’s not secure.
- If you’re giving your financial information on the web, make sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with https (the “s” stands for secure). Instead of clicking a link in an email to go to an organization’s site, look up the real URL and type in the web address yourself.
- Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
- Keep your operating system, browser and security software up to date.
Steps to Protect Yourself from Wire Fraud
He also states, in the unfortunate event that one is to become victim of wire fraud, it is important to act quickly and take the following steps:
- Call your title company or bank to make sure the wired funds went through.
- Contact the financial institution immediately upon discovering the fraudulent transfer.
- Request that the financial institution contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent.
- Contact your local FBI office if the wire is recent. The FBI, working with the U.S. Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, may be able to help. They can help return or freeze the funds.
- File a complaint, regardless of dollar loss, at ic3.gov.
Article written by Taylor Touchton of Coldwell Banker Next Generation Realty of Citrus, LLC.
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