As many of you know, Premier Title and our parent company, Mother Lode Holding Company, are proud members of the American Land Title Association. As part of its fight to help the industry combat wire fraud, ALTA launched www.stopwirefraud.org in 2019 to better inform the public about this issue and has devoted much time and effort to fighting these cyber fraudsters.
That commitment continues. ALTA President Bill Burding was recently quoted in a story from the Washington Post headlined, “Take these steps to prevent wire fraud during a real estate transaction.”
The PTA team wants everyone to know how these scams can start. First, an email account is hacked. That’s why it’s so important to use multi-factor authentication and strong passwords. We’ll let the article explain what happens from here.
Once hackers gain access to an email account of a real estate agent, a title company, an attorney or a consumer, they will monitor messages to find someone in the process of buying a home. Criminals then use the stolen information to email fraudulent wire transfer instructions disguised to appear as if they came from (someone involved in the transaction).
“If you receive an email with wiring instructions, don’t respond,” Burding says. “Email is not a secure way to send financial information. If a consumer takes the bait, their money could be gone in minutes.”
Here are some other tips from Mr. Burding about wire fraud that you can use yourself and pass along to your customers.
- Confirm all wiring instructions in person or by phone with a known number before transferring funds.
- Don’t email financial information. It’s not secure.
- If you’re giving your financial information on the internet, make sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with https (the "s" stands for secure). Instead of clicking a link in an email to go to an organization’s site, look up the real URL, and type in the address yourself.
- Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
- Keep your operating system, browser and security software up to date.
When it comes to recognizing wire fraud, remember if something seems off then it probably is! It’s never too early to talk to your buyers/sellers about wire fraud, and if you need help with those conversations – or confirming information – the Premier Title team is just a phone call away. Always feel free to reach out to us!