Of particular concern these days is the threat of hackers obtaining our personal information and wreaking havoc on our bank accounts, our lines of credit and our investments. Real estate transactions are no exception. Those of us who work in the industry are inundated with spam emails, attempted hacks and who knows what else is being thrown at us.
If you are a home buyer or seller you must remain vigilant during the period of time that your property is in escrow. Verify and be skeptical of any emails, phone calls, texts or social media communications that you are not sure of.
As real estate agents we are continually being cautioned about cybersecurity issues from our brokers, our affiliates, and our associations. In turn we must try our best to educate our clients about the perils of fraud in the transaction. Recently the Arizona Association of Realtors developed a document entitled “Wire Fraud Advisory” and most brokers now require that both buyers and sellers review and sign the document when a contract is written. The following are a few highlights from the advisory.
- Do not trust emails containing wire instructions.
- Do not trust emails seeking personal/financial information
- Trust your source of information.
Verify and notify: Before you wire funds to any party (including your lawyer, title agent, mortgage broker or real estate agent) personally meet them or call a verified telephone number (not the telephone number in the email) to confirm before you act! There is additional information in the advisory that gives the reader more details concerning the above highlights.
Cybercrime is an ever-present danger in the real estate industry and the best way to combat the problem is for buyers, sellers, their agents, title companies and lenders to be ever vigilant during the course of a transaction. Awareness is the key -- if you use good common sense, your transaction should go smoothly, and you will soon be a happy buyer or seller.