Email Phishing Scams Target Home Buyers
The American Land Title Association warns that email phishing scams targeting home buyers remain an active threat, despite efforts to alert consumers to the problem. Here is what Houston home buyers, home sellers and real estate professionals should know!
The scams are accomplished by hacking the email account of a real estate agent, lender or title company. Once inside the system, the scammers read through email messages to find transactions in progress and identify the home buyers.
When the closing date nears, the scammers send a message to the home buyers from the hijacked email account, giving them false information for a wire transfer of their down payment funds.
These scams can be very sophisticated, and the email messages sent from the scammers mimic the appearance and phrasing of legitimate parties in the transaction. Too often, anxious home buyers follow the instructions in the fraudulent email, and send their money to a foreign account belonging to the scammers. Unfortunately, these international wire fraud scams are difficult to trace. Once buyers fall for the scam, their money is seldom recovered.
While these scams often target expensive home purchases involving large down payments, they can strike at any level.
Since there is no such thing as truly private email, lenders, title companies and real estate professionals do not usually send financial instructions or account information through email. However, home buyers may not be aware of this. The Federal Trade Commission sums up the consumer’s best defense as follows:
“If you’re buying a home and get an email with money-wiring instructions, STOP! Email is not a secure way to send financial information. Your real estate agent and title company should know this.”
Home buyers should always feel welcome to call their real estate agent or title company to verify the authenticity of any email message, and to confirm the accuracy of closing dates and instructions.
For more information about avoiding this type of scam, see this article from the Federal Trade Commission.
Need information about Houston real estate? Whether you are looking to buy or sell a home, or you’re relocating to Houston, the KW Energy Corridor Team is here to help you! Our local expertise and excellent service makes all the difference. Contact us today for your personal real estate consultation!
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