Throughout the past couple of years, real estate scams have steadily risen throughout the country. With such extensive practice targeting real estate professionals, cybercriminals have perfected their phishing strategies within the industry. Their tactics now range from successfully impersonating real estate agents and title companies to hacking consumer email accounts and inquiring about future real estate transactions.
No matter which strategy is used to breach the homebuyer or real estate agent’s network, the outcome is almost always the same: an email is sent instructing the buyer to send the funds to a different account. Once the money is sent, it is lost to the cybercriminal’s account.
The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors have made several announcements regarding these phishing attacks. Last year, both associations sent out warnings for consumers and real estate agents to use caution if they receive a similar email during closing. The American Land Title Association (ALTA), however, does not think these efforts are enough.
“With the spring home buying season underway, it’s vital to continue raising awareness about these schemes,” reported Michelle Korsmo, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should take this opportunity to protect consumers from criminals looking to steal their money.”
To avoid losing money to hackers, Korsmo encourages homebuyers and real estate professionals to establish secure procedures to protect any and all transferred money, especially during closing. Since these scammers tend to strike by hacking email accounts, for example, it might be time to change your email account’s password.
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