Unsuspecting Homeowners Targeted With Mortgage Closing Costs Phishing Scam

Posted by Rey Armendariz on Saturday, April 9th, 2016 at 10:01am.

For many Denver residents, buying a home is a once in a lifetime journey. This memorable Real Estate journey begins with saving for the down payment, finding the perfect home, scheduling the move, and waiting for the official closing date. But buyers beware! According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) there is a new phishing scam that is targeting buyer settlement fees.

The Ins And Outs Of The New Phishing Scam
In conjunction with the National Association of Realtors®, the FTC is warning home buyers to be wary of a new email and money wiring scam. The new scam is led by various hackers who break into consumer and Real Estate agents' email accounts to steal valuable information about upcoming Real Estate transactions. Once the hackers have figured out the closing date, they will pretend to be the acting Realtor or title company and send the buyer an email saying that there has "been a last minute change to the wiring instructions." The email will include further instructions on where the buyer should wire the closing costs.

Through this simple phishing email scam, hackers are able to easily steal a buyer's valuable funds. The FTC is urging both buyers and sellers to be wary of any suspicious emails with money-wiring instructions. In fact, the government agency stresses that email is not a secure way to send financial information. If you receive a suspicious email with money-wiring instructions, don't click on any links, and don't send any money. Stop to speak with your team of Real Estate professionals and report the email to the FTC.

Tips On How To Avoid Phishing Scams

Avoiding a phishing scam is made easier when you follow a few simple best practice approaches.

  • Never email financial information. While typically secure, an email can be hacked. If you have sent financial information over email, and your email is hacked, then your bank accounts could be drained by an unknown digital scammer.
  • Make sure that any website that requires your financial information is both authentic and secure. At the beginning of the URL look for the secure lock symbol and double check that the site is listed as an "https." You should also check that the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is valid and up to date.
  • Take an extra moment to look up an organization's website URL, instead of clicking on embedded links within an email. This tip is especially important if you do not recognize the sender's email address. Be cautious when opening attachments or downloading files.
  • Follow-up on any suspicious emails with either in-person appointments or phone calls.
  • Keep your browser, operating system, and security software up to date.

These important tips can help you to avoid the new mortgage closing cost phishing scam, as well as other non-Real Estate related email scams.

The Bottom Line: When In Doubt, Contact Your Trusted Realtor

Throughout your home buying journey your Realtor should be available via phone, email, and in-person appointments. If you receive an email that seems suspicious, be sure to follow up with your Realtor via phone or in-person appointments so that you can more effectively determine if the email is real or from a hacker pretending to be someone else.

To learn other valuable tips and to enjoy a seamless home buying experience, please contact us anytime.

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