Realtors should always advise their clients to call and verbally verify wire details with attorneys, title companies, banks, etc. to confirm that the information aligns with the wire instructions. There are criminals out in the world waiting to take advantage of these situations. They hack into agents’ email accounts or the email accounts of attorneys, title agents or other parties invested in a real estate transaction. They are counting on the transaction to go through. They are tuning in to hear when closing gets scheduled and the transmission of funds is conversed. If there is an email offering wire transfer instructions, the criminals impede the original email and replace an email with separate wire transfer tasks. An unsuspicious buyer gets the message and tells his bank to wire the money required to close the transaction. If no one notices the substituted email and the illicit wire transfer instructions, the buyer’s money ends up being wired to the schemers. And just like that — the crooks get away with stealing a significant amount of money from the buyer. Once someone finally realizes this, it’s often times too late. The hacker’s account will be cleared out in a matter of minutes. The money is usually gone for good.
One way the cyber criminals can access real estate email accounts is through a false email that seems like it’s from an attorney or title company pretending to be sending closing documents, but the email in reality is from the criminal masterminds. A broker who is in a rush or not devoting full attention may easily make the error of clicking on the attachments and revealing the front door to the cyber criminals who then will apply their skill in order to gain entry to all emails in that account.
Avoid the scenario: It is recommended to never email financial information. Emails are not secured enough.
At the start of each transaction, inform every client and customer of the communication policies and security practices of the firm you are in contact with. Explain the potential risks of wire transfers and fill in clients and customers on how you plan to keep their information safe. Thoroughly go into the procedures they have to follow.
Preserve email from hackers: Utilize up-to-date cybersecurity measures.
Try not to not send sensitive information via email. If you need to, use encrypted email.
Consider two-factor authentication where an email account is protected by a password and some other personal security measure. This makes it a disadvantage for hackers to get into email accounts because even though they happen to be very clever when it comes to figuring out passwords, they won’t have access to the second security measure that will request the source device, like your smartphone.
Use the most recent firewalls and anti-virus technologies. Check that your operating system, browser, and security software are up to date.
Do not open questionable emails with unsolicited files attached and be wary about downloading any attachments from emails.
Avoid free Wi-Fi with no firewall to protect against hackers accessing a password or other sensitive information.
Never click on any links in an unverified email. Besides taking you to phony websites, these links can have viruses along with other malicious spyware that could make your computer as well as your transactions exposed to an attack.
Verify the security of the website. For any sensitive information the web provides, navigate the site to make sure it is secure. The browser’s URL should begin with “https.”
Clean out your email account regularly. Your emails could institute patterns in your business practice as time passes that hackers can try and use against you. Furthermore, a hoard of previous emails may include sensitive information from months or years past.
Coverage can be limiting towards losses caused by email fraud or computer hacking. Consider a cyber liability policy or incorporating more coverage to the existing policy. Assess that you are protected against the worst-case scenario where the buyer’s money is stolen and the buyer sues you and do not hesitate to contact our legal team at Kadoch Law Group for more information and/or assistance!