Fraud schemes continue to evolve and now they are targeting homebuyers. One of these scams involving mortgage wire fraud can be devastating and could cost a homeowner their down payment. Here’s a little more about this issue and some tips on how homebuyers can protect themselves.
Mortgage wire fraud
Similar to other types of email phishing, mortgage wire fraud involves a person hacking into a title, mortgage, or real estate company’s email account, then using this information to send a fraudulent email to a client – the homebuyer. The email provides the homebuyer instructions (or sometimes a revision to instructions) on where to wire the down payment just before the loan closes.
Unfortunately, the account information belongs to the criminal and is typically located overseas, making recovery of the funds difficult.
Sometimes, a phone call accompanies the email in which the caller impersonates a co-worker of the realtor or attorney.
How to protect yourself
These wire fraud emails look legitimate and could be difficult to spot. Knowing this type of fraud exists should give you cause to pause before responding. Some things you can do to protect yourself include:
- Call your realtor or mortgage lender directly, using a phone number you know is correct (not the one in the email).
- Remember that email is not a secure way to send financial information, such as bank account numbers or wire information. If an email requests secure items, it’s likely a scam.
- If you aren’t sure if the email is legitimate, do not click on any links or attachments in it because this could place malware on your computer.
- Never provide account numbers, Social Security numbers or any personal information to strangers. If you are not sure who is contacting you, don’t give out your information.
If you suspect fraud
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, call us immediately at (800) 649-0193 so we can help to protect your accounts and intercept the wire, if possible. You’ll also want to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and contact your local police department.
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