During the early 2000s, there was an email that almost everyone received. The message claimed it was from a Nigerian prince who required help in transferring millions of dollars to the US, and he neededa bank account to do it.In exchange for your assistance, he would give you a hefty portion of his wealth.
If that rings a bell, then you probably know the rest of the story. There was no Nigerian prince; nor were there millions of dollars to be given away. Instead, it was a scam called wire fraud. Afalse partyinitiated conversations through online messages, texts, phone calls, or faxes to obtain their victims’bank information and drain their money.
Today, wire fraud also happens in real estate deals. Someone can pretend to be a property buyer, seller, or agent. If they manage to fool their victim, they can steal the transaction money or even initiate home title fraud.
The good news is, through education and mindfulness, you can protect yourself from this. To prevent real estate wire fraud, here are the top practices.
Be Wary of Changes
Creating a fake account with the title company or mortgage lender’s name is a common trick. Fraudsters then write “updated” payment instructions or send a link to an unreliable communication portal.
If you receive emails regarding any changes, call the seller or company for verification. Never use the number listed on the message because that’s likely fake. Instead, go with the one on the main website or your agent’s personal line.
Use a Reliable Means for Communication
These days, almost anyone can spot a “Nigerian Letter” scam from a mile away. But, criminals have also become more adept at pretending to be real. To ensure you won’t fall for their tricks no matter how smart they seem to be, communicate through a reliable portal.
While most conversations can be done through text or online messaging, sensitive information should always be exchanged through a secure portal. Real estate companies, banks, and attorneys usually have a private website that requiresusers to input a unique password.
Phone numbers should also be included in the home title purchase agreement. At the beginning of a transaction, all people involved should meet and provide their personal contact lines. This way, everyone will know who to call when changes occur. Plus, this will deter fraud opportunities.
When the time to transfer the funds comes, the conversation should be made via phone for verification. The person sending the wire should initiate the call. If that’s not possible, going with a check is the safest option.
Confirm Wire Receipts
After transferring the funds, your bank will send a receipt confirming that the wire has been sent. But, that doesn’t mean the instructions used in the transactions were correct.
That’s why, even if you have the receipt, you should contact the recipient through a reliable means of communication to confirm. This way, if a problem does happen, you can catch it early on and increase your chances of recovering the funds.
Check With your Insurance Company
An insurance company is a good shield against scams.Business and homeowner’s policies usually cover cases where money is taken through wire fraud, especially if identity theft played a huge role in the scheme. After investigations, the insurer can return a portion of the money back to the sender.
If your business involves the frequent use of wire transfers, it’s best to check your policy provider to see if they cover wire fraud and how much they can recover. Contact Secure Title Lock for home title protection.