Wire fraud—you’ve likely heard about it or have seen it mentioned in tiny font at the bottom of emails, but what is it exactly? How does wire fraud in real estate or mortgages happen? What can you do to prevent it? Let’s dive into these questions so we can stop wire fraud before it happens!
How Wire Fraud Happens
So, how exactly does wire fraud happen? Well, it’s important to know that it can happen to anyone. Wire fraud perpetrators are very sophisticated nowadays, so much that you may not even realize you’ve been a victim of wire fraud until it’s too late.
If your computer or another third party in your mortgage process has malware on their computers, they are much more susceptible to wire fraud. Sophisticated hackers are able to get sensitive information off of your computer, allowing them to send very convincing emails. Similar to phishing emails, you can receive a fake wire instruction that looks very real (even down to the logo)—thus, wire fraud happens.
People trying to commit wire fraud will often try to redirect your cash-to-close into a different escrow account that’s not with the title company. Even the email address or signature can look real, down to even a warning about wire fraud on the email trying to scam you.
How to Prevent Wire Fraud
Luckily, there are several key components you can look out for to avoid becoming a victim of wire fraud. First and foremost, work with a mortgage company that you trust to have security protocols in place to protect you. We work hard to educate our borrowers, as well as confirm all wire transfers via phone call before they’re placed.
We also recommend some of the following precautions to help protect yourself:
- Update Email Passwords Periodically: We suggest every 90 days or so but changing your password will help to keep your accounts from being accessed.
- Update Anti-Virus Software: If you don’t have any anti-virus software installed on your personal computer, we strongly suggest downloading a program that runs automatically.
- Keep Computer Updated: Those pesky “restart your computer now” update notifications are there for a reason. Make sure you keep your computer up to date so that it has the best layers of protection possible.
- Double Check Emails: When we say that phishing emails can be convincing, we mean it. The person’s name could be the same in a fake email, but one letter or number may be different. For example, all emails from Luminate will always be “@goluminate.com,” but someone could create a fake email that looks very similar and be “@golum1nate.com.” Long story short, only trust emails coming from trusted sources!
- Confirm Over the Phone: For wire transfers especially, we always recommend that you call to confirm the transfer. If you receive an email asking for a transfer and something seems “off,” it won’t hurt to give your mortgage professional a call to confirm.
How Choosing the Right Lender Can Decrease Your Chances of Wire Fraud
When you’re purchasing or refinancing a home, you’re working with a lot of money at once. It can be intimidating to click “send” on so much of your finances, but when you work with a reliable team, you can rest easy knowing your money is in safe hands.
Here at Luminate Home Loans, it’s not our intention to worry or scare you with potential wire fraud. Instead, we want to help bring more awareness to the issue. Because the more aware you are, the better you’ll be able to identify malicious attacks in the future! When you choose a lender like us, not only are you getting top-notch service, you’re also getting peace of mind.
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