Scammers are now targeting real estate purchasers with a new tactic. One of the latest Scam Alerts from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) highlighted a phishing scam for mortgage closing costs. This scam is more advanced than the standard email phishing scam because it requires that the scammers first hack into consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts. The scammers then proceed to tell a legitimate purchaser that the wiring instructions have changed and provide the purchaser with “revised” wiring instructions. The wiring instructions provided by the scammers route the money to the scammer’s account. Any victim who falls for this will likely never see their money again.
The following tips can help protect you from this scam and similar scams in a real estate closing:
- If you are buying any type of real estate, insist on using a trusted closing agent.
- If you receive a new document or a “revised” document that you were not expecting then call the closing agent directly to confirm its authenticity.
- Be cautious emailing financial information.
- If you are uploading financial information over the internet then look for a URL that starts with “https”, rather than “http”, as the “s” stands for secure.
For more information about this scam and many others, visit the FTC’s website at: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts.
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