You’ve gone through the journey of finding the perfect home, signed all the closing documents, and you can’t wait to get your hands on the keys to your new home! You receive an email from what appears to be your loan officer providing instructions for a wire transfer. Immediately, you hit the button to send off the cash for closing but, your loan officer has no inkling of any transfer occurring. Like many Americans, you may have just been phished. Phishing is when cyber scammers utilize fraudulent emails, texts, and websites to acquire valuable personal information. Releasing information such as your Social Security number, accounts, and passwords can all cause you to be the victim of a phishing scam. According to MBA Newslink, the FBI estimates about a $19 million loss in 2016 from real estate purchases by manipulating email communications.
How You Can Avoid Getting Phished:
- Speak to your loan officer about the closing process.
By learning the closing processes of your loan, you can eliminate any confusion when it comes to phishing emails. Eagle Home Mortgage will never provide wire instructions or request that you send a wire transfer directly to them.
- Do not release your financial information through email.
Anyone’s email account can be hacked.An email hacking can happen to anyone. If a message comes through from a familiar name, be suspicious if it is requesting financial information, reach out to that person directly by phone to get more information.
- Be careful with opening any attachments and links within emails.
Scammers will often attach malware to attachments and links within an email. By opening the wrong link, you may weaken your computer's security! Again, stay aware, and if you have any suspicions contact your Loan Officer directly.
- Talk to your bank about red flags on wire-instructions.
Keep an eye out for any discrepancies between the account names. Your bank may be able to detect any red flags by comparing them to past complaints on fraudulent accounts.
What to Do if You Get Phished:
- Confirm with your title company or escrow attorney.
Request a transaction receipt to confirm that the transaction was authentic.
- Contact your bank to cancel a wire transfer.
Upon discovering that your money went to the wrong account, call your bank immediately to recall the transfer.
- File a complaint with your local FBI and state Attorney General Office.
An agent will be able to further investigate the situation and find the scammer behind the crime. Chances are if it happened to you, it has happened to others.
- Report the phishing scam to the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC may be able to work with you on getting the situation resolved and possibly return the money lost to you.
Stay safe out there!