Wire fraud scams are not new, and we are beginning to hear more about them hitting too close to home – far too often! In fact, it is not unusual for me to hear about a breach, or potential breach, each and every week.
Recently, as I sat in a closing with my sellers, we overheard a party in the next room (who was expecting a check at closing for the proceeds from the sale of their home) being questioned about an email the closing attorney had just received asking to have those funds wired directly to a bank account. Thankfully, the savvy closing coordinator second-guessed the legitimacy of that email and verified it, before acting, saving that seller from the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
My clients are put on notice up front that I will never provide them with wiring instructions nor discuss their personal financial information via email, and any email doing so should be called into question immediately.
However, it is very easy with the number of emails received during a real estate transaction (agent, lender, inspector, closing attorney, etc…) for a buyer to become confused about who they are communicating with. And, sadly, the bad guys are getting very good about making themselves look legitimate.
It is always my recommendation that, upon receipt of any questionable communication, you contact the closing attorney’s office immediately – not through any email address or phone number provided in that questionable communication – but directly by phone, through a verified phone number, to confirm the legitimacy of the information.
NEVER provide your personal information via email to an unconfirmed source or over the phone to someone who called you.
It is my hope that by sharing this information it will be easier for consumers to recognize the red flags and protect themselves from the danger.
Please take a moment to watch this quick video by Katie Johnson, General Counsel for The National Association of Realtors, who explains how it happens and how you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim of wire fraud.