Cybercrimes may not be a new issue, but they have become more prominent over the past few years. In fact, you may have even heard about some of the biggest breaches, such as those that happened to Equifax and Yahoo. What you may not know is that these crimes are found in almost every industry, including the real estate industry, and changing your passwords, freezing your credit report, and upgrading your computer security may not save you. Learn what homebuyers are up against and discover how you can protect yourself during the closing transaction on your new home purchase.
Beware of Real Estate Closing Transaction Scams
Over the past year, hackers have intercepted more than $1 billion in real estate transaction money. Mostly, they target large transactions, but even smaller ones can be at risk. Two recent cases – one last May, in which a couple lost $1.57 million on a wire transfer of their settlement funds and one in January, in which a Denver couple lost $272,536 of their down payment – are prime examples of just how varied the targeted transactions can be.
Hackers start the process by finding an opening in the system or email account of a title company or real estate agent. They then track upcoming home purchases to determine which ones are scheduled for payment. Once they find a victim, they send an email, posing as the escrow agent or title company, and instruct the home buyer to wire funds to an account. The homebuyer assumes it is the escrow account, but it is not. Instead, it is a bank account owned by the criminal. Once the funds are in their account, they withdraw the money and disappear.
Protecting Yourself from Real Estate Transaction Scams
Homebuyers can protect themselves from real estate transaction scams by ensuring they verify all emails in which funds are requested. Contact the individual that sent it, either in person or over the phone, before wiring any money. An experienced real estate attorney can also provide protection by handling all the legal aspects of your home purchase transaction.
At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we protect your interests during residential real estate transactions. Dedicated and experienced, we can review contracts, negotiate better deals, and even help protect you from hackers. Learn more about how our seasoned DuPage County real estate attorneys can assist with the purchase of your new home. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your personalized consultation with us today.