It’d be nice to think that all people can come together at a time of immense tragedy such as the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, however, the kind of people who engage in cybercrime aren’t likely to take time off just because there’s a worldwide pandemic. That’s why it’s just as important to protect your property in the midst of COVID-19 as you would at any other time. Here are some things you should know so you won’t be the victim of any surprises the next time someone does a property title search on your property.
The Risk of Wire Fraud
Con artists like to interfere with real estate transactions during closing. In particular, over the last few years, instances of wire fraud have gone up exponentially nationwide. The last few days before a real estate transaction is finalized are usually the most hectic days of the entire process. Buyers and sellers will be communicating back and forth with each other and with banks while home inspections are concluding. Further confusing the process, both buyers and sellers are often undergoing the same process in relation to other homes, enhancing the possibility that a miscommunication takes place. Scammers know how to take advantage of the situation by hacking into the title company or lender’s computer system or email server, enabling them to send fraudulent wiretransfer information to the buyer. Once the transfer is made, the cybercriminal keeps the money and moves on to their next victim.
Wire Fraud in the Time of COVID-19
The means with which fraudsters are able to hack into people’s accounts and send false information hasn’t changed, but the fact we’re living during a worldwide pandemic increases people’s vulnerability to such behavior. These are unusual times. The way we shop, work, recreate, and live our daily lives is vastly different than it’s ever been before. Therefore, it seems perfectly believable if a bank or lending institution sends us special instructions out of nowhere that seem to account for the current situation. If you’re in the middle of buying or selling a house, you need to be especially wary of any instructions that appear to be using the current crisis as an excuse to take steps that are out of the ordinary. It may be a legitimate consideration, or it could be a cybercriminal sending you bogus information in order to steal your money or title.
There are several things you can do to protect yourself from cybercriminals. If you receive instructions regarding a wire transfer, always verify with the other party and financial institution. Establish procedures with them so you always have a number to call for verification and have a person on the other end whom you can trust. Be on the lookout for common errors in hacked emails, such as misspellings, poor grammar, or an unwarranted sense of urgency. Finally, there’s no better way to avoid property fraud than by securing your home with a home protection plan.
Whether you’re the buyer or the seller of a home protect it by contacting Secure Title Lock. We’re committed to making sure your most valuable assets are protected from predatory cybercriminals. For title protection you can count on, call us today at (801) 225-2888.